Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Incomplete Principle To Call My Own - Even Though It Is Not - At All

Objects in mirror... are gone.
It probably started as reflex.  Passed with ease through the compulsion phase.  Now, it's a disease.  I cannot stop looking back.

When it began - who can say?  Oh wait - I can.  For most people I know, it started around puberty - maybe sixth or seventh grade.  For once, I was ahead of the curve on this one.  For me, standing, staring backward and second-guessing myself started as early as the fourth grade.  I knew - I knew I should have said something other than what I said to my teacher, but it was too late, and I was duly and justly punished as a result.

A couple of years later, I found myself delivered home by the police, to a disbelieving mother, after failing to heed the advice of the tiny voice inside me that had tried in vain to prevent me from helping my friends break into the school to fetch their skateboards, which had been trapped inside a storage room in a manner so spectacularly stupid as to defy description.  I had only needed to say no, I didn't have any ideas, but instead I became the mastermind of the whole ridiculous enterprise.

It spirals on from there.  Things I said, things I didn't say but should have.  Opportunities missed for what appeared at the time to be No Good Reason.  And girls.  Time wasted on girls who wanted nothing to do with me and never would, and time that could have been better spent with the (admittedly few) girls who did want me around, but whose interest and appeal inexplicably eluded me.  

But there's more to this backwards-looking addiction than things unsaid, arguments lost and girls not kissed.  It extends to major life decisions - threads in the fabric of my personal space-time.  Also, it's not exclusively about the negative results of life's decision points.  Happy nostalgia is just as fraught with futility as is regret.  

I call it my Completion Backwards Principal, and no - it has nothing to do with the 1981 album of the same name by the Tubes.  Just as it can be a waste of time and energy to stare too hard at an uncertain and ever-changing future, looking back is a risky business.  History is the best teacher, they say, but wallowing in one's personal past in the hopes of altering it - of fixing it - is downright destructive.  No matter how long and hard you stand there and stare at the path behind you, it CANNOT be completed.  No closure will come. 

The more a person longs to go backwards and complete that which he or she has left incomplete, the less whole that past will become, until eventually it disintegrates into chaos.

I'm not saying don't do it.  A fondness for days gone by, a healthy historical perspective, an awareness and acceptance of one's past missteps - all perfectly useful things.  Just don't live there.  

I'm also saying, do as I say, not as I do.  I have a lot of work to do, here.  

It should also be noted that any tinkering with the past, were it even possible, would derail our lives.  If I could go back and "fix" one blown job interview in 1994, I would never have worked at that genetics company, met [Maris] and found my way to true completion - and what good would THAT be?  None.  It'd be none good.

Behind us, there are storms which never stop brewing.

This post was written to the prompt "Backwards," from the good and clever folks at STUDIO THIRTY PLUS.



  1. I'm with you on this one Joe... if I wrote down all my coulda-shoulda-woulda's I could wallpaper an entire house! At least you recognize how a sad outcome (failed interview) brought you the best thing ever (Maris)

    p.s. your link doesn't go direct to your post from Studio 30+

    1. Thank you! It sounds so simple to say "you can't change the past," but it's a hard lesson to put into practice.

      I don't know what's up with my link on S30P. Must replace it. Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Good Morning!
    "Don`t live in the past!" BINGO!
    I started to apply this principle to my life when I realized how much- no good, it will be. Saddest examples for it is my grandparents, grandpa lives back in his childhood and days of WW2 every single day (he is in his 90ties) and grandma always talks about her days in USSR and how unjust is life now with new government. Hod bad is nowadays, marinating themselves,How it was,what they did differently. It sucks the life out of me seeing how people don`t adjust to 21st century. As human is so flexible in their nature,to grow! Some just choose not to! And I am not talking that they should run around with Iphones,Ipads and low jeans (that would be a sight tho!)
    For one,all I know that if you ponder about the past without healthy life lesson idea,but live there,you will have no future! As all you do is live in your "doll house"
    Have a good one!

    1. Great examples, Alice! It is absolutely true that EVERY generation misses its own "good old days." Such a waste, when today is pretty cool, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Today and forever, I have always said I have no regrets. And I don't. Not a single one. Perhaps a few things I wish I had done differently, but they pass through my memory unimpeded like a fly in the kitchen- you know it shouldn't be there but you just don't care enough to kill it. Anyway. I have plenty of flies, they fly out the door each time it's opened, and another flies in. And every once in a while, there comes a butterfly.