Falling in love…with the past?
“It’s okay to look back at the past. Just don’t stare” – Benjamin Dover
I had an interesting experience last night – a moment of falling in love…with my past. Weird, I know, something about that phrase annoys me, but there it is. I got home after a quick work stint over on Chongming Island, doing some kid-wrangling cleverly disguised as relief/substitute English language teaching. Needless to say, I got home, said a quick prayer of thanks for teaching teenagers instead of eight year olds (yes, truly) and settled in for a short nap.
In one of those strange moments where things pop into my head for no logical reason, I had a flash of some images from an old video that I came across while I was preparing for China. In the video, my former husband (let’s call him Isaac; ‘cause that’s his name) had taken some short footage of our dog Angus climbing onto my lap for a hug. Angus was a 50kg Rottweiler that couldn’t bear to be more than two-feet away from you at any time.
The conversation was sprinkled with ‘babe’ and ‘sweet’; laughs and frustration because Lola, our other dog, wouldn’t join in the party… and well, just sweetness and softness. It was simply a 45-second video at home, probably about six or seven years old now.
Last night I thought about how unrecognisable my life would now be to that younger Michelle, and yet that doesn’t make it any better or worse to my life back then. It was a special, lovely time, and yet it was actually a challenging time full of big life changes at what I now feel is the tender age of 24 (new marriage, house move and career change)!
So I thought: ‘what if I just fell in love with my past and left it at that?’. And this is not one of those romantic, nostalgic notions of ‘everything seemed better then’. I have no desire to recreate that time in the here and now, or be back there. And it’s been a long process of healing, clearing emotion and moving forward, I might add, with much (mis)adventure along the way!
Many people, more intelligent than me, contend that suffering, heartache and inability to heal comes from holding on to the past (and I agree). To just love the past for what it is/was doesn’t mean we have to hang on to it and drag it everywhere with us, use it for ‘show and tell’, or strive for an updated version. Truly loving someone or something is also letting go, or at least holding lightly; anything other than that is possession, an illusion. Love is and allows freedom, I think. Freedom for each to be their own person and yet to fully witness and honour the other person (or perhaps animal, place or the ‘thing’ that is loved, it’s not about romantic love).
For that moment (and still now) I really felt – not just ‘thought’ – that I would not change a single thing about my life to this point. That also means I’ll take the lonely and the painful alongside the lovely and the joyful.
 which for someone with an overactive brain like mine, happens a lot!