The Past is Past and Yet It Lasts

25 Mar


Photo by Alvimann on Morgue File.

What are the three most memorable moments — good or bad, happy or sad — in your life? Go!

It would be hard for me to choose only three. Ranking which should be the top three would be nearly impossible. I would prefer to think of memorable moments from different times in my life. Much like different aisles in a market, life could be divided into different times or eras and then three could be chosen from each.

For example, you could have one aisle as your early childhood. From this period of time, you would then choose those moments. From there you could move on to later childhood and so forth.

I suppose if I really had to I could come up with the three most memorable over the entire span of my life to this point. But, it would be a hard thing to do.

The past is tricky. It seems several of the prompts lately have been geared toward time and life.

Some have such cherished moments from their past they wish they could hit the rewind button and go back and relive them. Others have such regrets they cannot do anything but constantly relive them. They wish they could hit the delete button and remove them completely. Still others do not seem to mind their past at all. For them it is as if the past is held in place by a sticking pause button.

We have lots of adages and sage sayings when it comes to the past. We have the wisdom of: those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. We have the philosophical: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards (S. Kierkegaard). We have the playful: The past is never where you think you left it (Katherine Porter). Or, no man is rich enough to buy back his past (Oscar Wilde). We have Shakespeare opining: What’s past is prologue.

On and on we could go.

So many of the quotations you see, in some way touch upon the angst many feel about the past. It is this thing that haunts us. It is a haunting presence no matter what form it takes it seems. If we remember it fondly, if we are given to the nostalgia of it, then we are in a sense trapped by it. We spend our present wishing for the past. We in vain try to recreate it, to relive it. We try to capture it in photos and videos and recordings. But we find in our pursuit of it that these are merely a ghost. They are a shadow. An illusion. It is something we once possessed. It is something we once had; but now, it eludes us. It is like a lover we once held passionately, hopelessly and madly in love−but now, now is gone.

If when we think of the past we remember the bad. Our regrets are beasts that prey on our mind and our peace. We try to escape it. We try to be rid of it. In this we find the past is very present. It is very real. It is almost tangible to us. It haunts us and causes us to live our presents in fear. We are paralyzed by its enchantment. We are lured, seduced and cursed by its call.

The issue with all this is that the past really is benign. It is we who make it this or that. We are the ones who choose to allow it to hold sway over us. We invite it in and dine with it. Perhaps there is a security to it all. The past, whatever else it may be, is certain. We have lived it. We have known it. That is not to say there are not surprises lurking there; but, it is something dirtied by our fingerprints.

Back to the prompt, if I had to list the three most memorable moments from my life, I think I would choose the following: my wedding day, the birth of my first daughter and the birth of my second daughter. Yes, I know, spoken like a true husband and father! There are many other moments which are close to these. I am thankful that most of them are good.

As Sinatra (and Elvis after him) confessed, regrets, I’ve had a few. But, I try not to accentuate them any more than need be. I think we should learn from our mistakes and failures. But, mistakes and failures are not always regrettable are they? Sometimes mistakes and failures may be jewels in our crown. If we have not failed at something, it does not point to our perfection, it merely says of us we have attempted nothing. Failing is part of life. We all fail. But failure and regret may not be the same thing.

In fact, we may have more regrets about our successes or achievements. We may have regrets about the good from our past. We may regret we did not enjoy it enough. We may regret it has past.

In some sense, we can say the past does not last. It is gone. It is a ghost and nothing more. Yet, we can also say that if there is anything that lasts it is the past. It is with us constantly. I suppose it depends how we wish to look at it. And, depending on our perspective, it will affect how we remember it.

Memorable moments come in all shapes and sizes. The key, along with being thankful for those moments in the past, is to go forth and make some more!


Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Daily Prompt


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8 responses to “The Past is Past and Yet It Lasts

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