We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

It’s Not Even Past

Written By: Charles - Jun• 28•20

Summer and the Moon of Justice

Sunday gratefuls: The Laramide Orogeny. The chance to see its starting point frequently. The chance to see the actual end of the Great Plains frequently. Stump grinders. Arborists. Lawn service folks. Asphalt. The Snow plows and their drivers. Jackie, our hair stylist. (Not that I have much left to style.) Seoah’s 5th day in quarantine. Only 9 to go. Kep’s hotspots healing.

The Past.  Our own, our family’s, our country’s, our specie’s.  How do we view the PAST regarding forgiveness, compassion, learning, loving, and, perhaps most of all, how we live in this one precious day of this one precious life NOW?

Buddy Tom Crane’s prompt for our meeting this morning on zoom. Old Friends. Bill, Mark, Paul, Tom, me. Over 30 years of jawin’.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner Whatever else the past is it only exists right now. Because everything that exists exists right now. At least from the perspective of our consciousness. Free beer tomorrow.

Ever learned anything? Faulkner’s right. Ever been in a relationship? Ever lived? Time’s arrow is an argument in physics. Maybe everything exists all at once. Or, maybe everything moves in the direction of less entropy. But, is that time? Don’t know.

What I do know is that until I could entertain the memory (a ghost from my past) of Vega looking up at me, willing me to do something about her bloat, I was trapped by the fear it caused. Glancing away from it. Pushing it out of consciousness. She died. And, I could do nothing. I loved her, she trusted me, but I couldn’t save her.

Finally, I went the whole way into the memory. Touched her again. Felt her stomach. Reassured her. Remembered that awful time at Sano when Kate and I knelt inside the metal crate. “Her heart stopped,” the vet said.

Now Vega romps through my doggy memories, being a rascal, chewing our shoes, peeing on our rugs, but also delightful and loving and funny. I had lost her to my fear.

So, the past is with us. And, within us, the past can change. Or, rather, our acceptance of it can change. When I went into treatment for alcoholism, I had years of hangovers, drunken one night stands, the grief over my mother, fear cutting jagged holes into my day to day to life. Fear that receded when the God Dionysus took over.

That guy, the one I’d been since the purple Jesus parties at Phi Kappa Psi in 1965, had to widen his arms, embrace all the pain, all the missteps, all the avoidance and denial. Had to come out of his own groundhog hole, look for the sun, as he had done many, many times. And, finally find it. Yes, I can live in the light, seeing all of who I’ve been, gathering all of it in close. Not in judgment, but in acceptance. Because, though I can’t change the past, how I live with it can change me.

Here’s a point where I get confused. That I. The Buddhists: no self. My kabbalah experiment with watching the watcher. Many selves, many masks. The long march from infancy to old age. Who was that masked man? At 40? At 30? At 10? Was he me? Or, do I have to believe that I somehow arrived at this point in my life sui generis? No past, no self. Just this accretion of cells that somehow insists on having a history? Let’s say Buddhism has a low view of the Self. Kabbalah a fractured one.

My common sense understanding? A solid Self. And what is that Self? The one who can access, retrieve memories that only this body has experienced. Yes, it’s true that this Self is not the one who experienced those memories. It exists in this moment, shaped by those experiences, yet changed by its survival into the now. And, it is not the self of the next moment since it will be changed yet again. No self? OK. Many selves, many masks? OK. A solid Self? OK. All at once, expressing a different view through the prism of consciousness. OK. After all, William James called consciousness a “blooming, buzzing confusion.”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.