I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be, you’re gonna give your love to me,
I will love you night and day, know our love not fade away
I spent the greater part of the morning poring over old photos. Most of them were from the seventies and the eighties, when I was a little more reckless than I am today. It was great reliving those memories, and it was even greater now wallowing in the past, wishing to return to something that was so long ago.
It’s easy to do, isn’t it? We see a snapshot of ourselves when we were younger, with good friends we haven’t been in touch with for so many years, and we want at least a part of it back. We want to return to a certain innocence that we believe is still possible.
I think the better thing to do is reclaim that innocence that is still with you. The old, fading pictures have done a fine job of freeze-framing a moment for us to remember, but we are too quick, I believe, to think that the goodness within that picture is, for some reason, locked in that past.
I dare say, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, it is locked up within you, longing to be released again and cherished as a part of who you are.
From time to time, I have a debate with some good friends who have weathered a few decades with me. It goes something like this:
Good Friend (GF): You can’t live in the past. You have to discard those old shells like a crab molting, getting bigger, stronger by shedding the old, dead skin of its former self. You meet new people, grow up, gain new experiences, and too many of them have nothing to do with the relationships and experiences you had in the past.
ME: But those relationships are possible because of those past experiences. Let’s consider ourselves grapes for a moment, shall we? Let’s just, for the sake of argument, make the assumption that, one day, we will become wine. The distinctive taste of the wine is from a long heritage of grapes grown in that region. The grape does not become distinct when the process begins to age the wine; it relies on its history to become, eventually, a fine-tasting wine that is savored by many. If it weren’t for that grape’s past, it would be some generic, fermented drink that is corked and put out for sale. Even Aristotle believed that unfermented grape juice was a good wine’s childhood.
GF: You make a lot of mistakes in the past, though, and the only way to move on from them is to put them behind you, especially when you meet somebody new who doesn’t care about where you’ve been, as long as you don’t go back there again.
ME: There’s a difference between going back and preserving the essence of you. Nobody is suggesting you should shirk your current responsibilities to relive some moment in the past. I argue that the past defines who you are today, and you can’t let any individual enter your life with demands to make you discard that past for the sake of the relationship. From the day you were born, your experiences have been defining and refining who you are. I say, to your old, bad self: It’s all about the Not Fade Away. Refine, Good Friend. Refine like a good wine in the glory of ’09.
Well, maybe that last part was not said during one of our debates, but I say it to all of you on this, the last day of 2008.
Love yourself. Love your life. Love those in your life. Cherish the experiences captured in those snapshots and remember the aspects of you that you continue to refine. There’s no need to abandon the great times of the past; build on them, instead. Make the experiences in 2009 be as rich as the colors (or variations of gray!) in those old photos, and continue to refine the great person you continue to become. ☺