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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Love In The Time Of Melancholia


There is a certain consequence to moving back to your hometown that at first seems benign and subversive enough that you don't even think twice about it, until it overcomes your present state of mind and takes over, and later consumes you.  I'm talking about a gradual tendency to start living in the past that which I sometimes think releases nostalgia "endorphins" that has that feel-good melancholia high.  You become almost like a junkie, and instead of your vision getting blurry, it starts to turn your world black & white, washing away all the vibrant colors of the here and now, dirtying your field of view like a grainy old film, tarnished from the acid of yesterday's sunshine.

And it becomes even more so when you move back to the same house that you grew up in.  What was the point of the last ten, twenty years when you just come full circle, with not a single "progress" in terms of geography to show for it?  Right back from whence you started from in terms of your coming of age...everything looks the same and yet it looks so odd and strangely familiar and alien at the same time...

You drive around making mental comments like you're some tour guide of your own past - "That's the library where I took my gradeschool girlfriend on our first date, and that's the bushes where I gave my first kiss..."  "This is where I use to ride my bike and I followed this pretty girl home..."  "This is where I use to go hiking whenever I wanted to be alone and felt like an adult for the first time..."  "This is the sound of the breeze through the trees I use to hear lying in the hammock in the backyard twisting my tongue pronouncing made up names reading Frank Herbert's novel Dune because a pretty hippie girl in high school said it was her favorite book..."  "This is the tombstone of the woman I didn't know but use to visit in the cemetery just so I can have someone to talk to..."

You start evoking emotions and old feelings looking for hints of rediscovering your true self, when all you're doing is rehashing experiences like chewing on old gum looking for any semblance of flavor.  It can become an almost dangerous exercise, getting trapped in the past.

In order to get out of this dilemma, you first have to realize it, and get past the denial, that you are indeed traveling backwards instead of forward, and you must first come to a complete stop in order to shift out of reverse, and slowly make progress in a forward direction.  Try to stay away from the tried and true and seek out new experiences and visit the vast array of the geographic unknown.  Meet new people, as well as engaging in new adventures with old friends.  Granted I am not as shy as I use to be, allowing the opportunity to be bolder in seeking new avenues of experiences.

There is also the alternate reality conundrum of what could have been.  This is just as dangerous, if not more so, in relegating any thought and energy in such a futile exercise.  It does produce, not necessarily the feel-good endorphins of nostalgic melancholia, but of the more fatal feel-bad despair of a future that could have been, and it is wrought with regret and sorrow that can suck the life blood of all that is humane and true.  What actions, words, deeds could I have done differently?  Which sequential steps should I have taken in a different order?  What fraction of a degree could I have undertaken to keep the ship from veering off miles from it's originally intended path?  These are all utterly futile mental exercises as no amount of mental massaging could any good come from it.  It only sheds darkness into the state of things as they are, as they have become, as they were meant to be.  Granted there was no grand design or script for what has transpired, but simply time taking its toll on the mortals of now.

It can sometimes be enlightening to look ahead past the white lines going under, to look beyond and steer towards a better tomorrow.  Sure the next crest of the wave before my bow is looming, but it is not so high as to obstruct the view of the next one, or the one after that one, and so forth...until it all blurs to infinity...into that horizon...