15 February 2016

61 – Don’t Leave The Past Behind

This is the first essay I’ve posted in a long time. That’s partly by design, and partly unexpected. Such is life when a beautiful surprise enters your life.

I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s films. And this scene from Batman Begins has always resonated with me

Sometimes the past is a superhero’s greatest nemesis.

Alfred’s right. It’s no one’s business to tell another person what to do with their past. But the past does matter, especially if you care about your future. And this essay’s about that.

The World spews hot air, white noise and bullshit at us daily. That’s what it’s good at. And that’s not a good thing.

Being advised to leave the past behind is one example of such bullshit. According to The World only some of the past matters. We should jettison the mistakes we’ve made and the regrets we have. We should carry on like they’d never happened. We should act like they've had no impact on us. We should only remember those things we recall with affection. We’re supposed to call those memories, I think.

But we’re shaped by more than good memories. We’re shaped by our whole pasts, including the painful parts The World suggests we forget. And it’s often that hard, painful stuff that pushes us to become better people. And recent encounters with two great people have reaffirmed my belief in that.

We’ll start with a former cast member who recently made a surprise guest appearance.

I met Copper through a summer softball league almost twelve years ago. Teamwork and comradery on the field grew into friendship off the field. And a wide array of hijinks and tomfoolery ensued, often involving bonfires.

Tip of the day, # 1: when in doubt burn it.

Our roads diverged six years ago. We both passed through stormy, personal weather and became exiled from each other in the process. And that's all I say on that subject here. 

Our paths crossed again when I made a grocery resupply run on a Friday night in December. Now, understand that I’m a creature of habit, I like my Systems (see House Newf #58, #59, and #60), and I normally never go out for groceries on a Friday night. Sprinkling some variety into your habits can be a good thing, boys and girls. 

I entered the produce section and instantly forgot whether sweet potatoes were on sale or not. Copper was approaching me with outstretched arms as a genuine ‘as I live and breathe’ moment unfolded. We spent the next half hour talking and possibly ruining the shopping experience of several prospective spud buyers. We exchanged contact information and agreed to reconvene somewhere other than a produce aisle.

Myself and Copper have gotten together several times since that chance meeting. We’ve shared war stories about our paths after we'd become estranged. We’ve had a few drinks and recalled past glories. And we’ve started helping each other with creative projects that we both pursue in our own time.

I've learned that Copper is much more than just the cool, fun-loving guy I'd always enjoyed hanging out with. His stories of being reduced to having nothing and slowly picking up the pieces resonate deeply with me. They've reminded me that when we do strike bottom the only way to go is back up. Copper is a man of character equipped with admirable qualities. He’s honed those traits while grappling with the hard moments and tough corners of life. And I never would have known that had Copper chosen to leave his past behind.

I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the past since a new cast member joined the show.

Myself and Glosettes met two months ago. We found each other when we both took a chance on a right turn. And we’re glad we did.

Glosettes has been a beautiful surprise. She’s gorgeous, intelligent, and funny. She’s highly articulate and wickedly crude when the situation calls for it. She lives with a Raisin and a Peanut in a nice, neat home where everything serves a purpose. She’s a worker, and she’s quite serious about her work. But she also enjoys relaxing, and she’s quite serious about that, too. And despite already living a full life, she manages to find some time for a House Newf. And don’t you fucking dare call her a lady. She’s a woman.

We’re learning a lot about each other. The floodgates opened following a Bruins Realization during the first days. Note: a Bruins Realization is the exact opposite of thisThat triggered a series of welcome distraction sessions. And those sessions grew into some important and full disclosures about important episodes from our pasts.

Glosettes respects the importance of her past. She realizes it’s not something that can be undone quickly and easily. She accepts that her past informs the woman she has become. And she knows that dealing with her past can help her become the more complete woman she aspires to be. Glosettes chooses not to leave her past behind, and that's a big reason why she's so impressive to me. 

I’ve felt quite good about myself and my life for some time. But Glosettes is helping me see that something very special and important had been missing. And life’s been feeling even better since she came along.

We’ve got a long way to go. And there’ll be thunder on the road. But we both know just what we’re here for, we know we can make it good somehow, and we’re pulling out of here to win.

Tip of the day, #2: always listen to The Boss.

We’re hybrids of our genetics, our surroundings, and experiences. We’re the sum of every day we’ve lived, every decision we’ve made, and every action we’ve taken until right now. We exist only because we have a past. End of story.

You cannot leave your past behind. You can’t wash your hands clean of it. You can’t take a flame to it and burn it. You can’t take it out back and bury it. It makes no difference how painful it is, or how much you want to forget it. Everything never gets erased. 

And yet your past doesn’t have to scar you for life. Your history doesn’t have to be your destiny

You can’t control what you did yesterday, but you can control what you do today.

And learning to deal with your past can be a great first step toward a better future.

Take care of your past. Listen to it. Learn from it. Stand up to it. Make peace with it. Build a better future because of it.

Don’t ever leave your past behind. 

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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.