Secret Pop

May 25, 2013

Ever long is the looking back

Memorial Day weekends have not been particularly winning for me in the past few years. There were moments of painful meanness and inscrutability. There were beginnings of things that turned out to be irreparably damaging. There were ugly exchanges and unfair recriminations. Accusations of every sort (mostly the undeserved sort). And when I take stock of all that, it's hard not to think there's something seasonal about all this sturm und drang.

At the same time, it's my habit -- and perhaps not the healthiest one -- to look for patterns and to follow paths of reasoning, and maybe I defeat myself with this thinking. Maybe there is no magic equation that will spare me the various hurts and harms that happen in something that feels like it could look like a pattern -- if you squint a bit.

But it happens at the end of my birthday month, and it feels like a seasonal gateway that everyone looks forward to. I mean, barbecues. Am I right? And also, in my case, usually some time by the pool and usually a little too much sun and usually too much contemplation and too many songs that make me think about things I'd be better off not thinking about.

The thing I realize most pointedly this weekend is that I have a habit of looking back on things through a filter that sometimes diminishes context. I think about happy times or hopeful interludes, and it's only if I think too long on them that my brain will fill in the blanks, and my sentimentality will be offset by the ballast of things that were less happy, less hopeful. The ballast of truth. Every time it happens, I can't help but feel as if my brain is slapping my hand. It's a lesson I never seem to learn.

People will tell you that the past is your enemy and that thinking about things that hurt you keeps you anchored to that hurt. They're not entirely wrong. But the past is also where all of your most painful lessons live, and forgetting them sends you barreling into your future unarmed. We craft our personal carapaces over time. And there is a difference between that shell and the notion of baggage. There is a difference between hurt that we are unwilling to let go of and the outerwear we don to keep off the rain. Who on earth would fault you for wearing a raincoat when the rain is coming down?

I've learned important lessons from every loss. Even if I haven't always heeded those lessons in the subsequent go round. It's frustrating, sure. If I look back over my years of posts -- many of which were greatly informed by this topic -- it seems I learn at a glacial pace. If at all. I'm a smart girl. Anyone will tell you that. But you'd have to be pretty smart to be dumber than me. And that's the gospel truth.

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