Sunday, January 18, 2004

The edited history
Do you ever have a memory surface, in a painfully real glimpse, bringing with it the intense feeling of shame, humiliation, remorse or grief that you felt when you realised the true meaning of that event? I do, all the time. A word, a string of music, a scent, or perhaps nothing, just the batting of Chinese butterfly-wings, can bring up a split second of images I have attempted to supress.

Whenever I get one of those spells, I wish I could edit my past. I would like to do everything from deleting it all and starting over, to go in and correct different little episodes: five minutes spent preparing here, 10 seconds of thinking before I talk there, choosing a different route while driving to the swimming pool on a long-past winter's day, pausing to offer help rather than passing by a stumbling drunk in some far city. I face my prejudices and flaws in these penetrating glimpses of the past, hating it. Still I wonder: who would I be without it? I know my potential arrogance, my lack of patience and the promises too easily spoken, and these moments in retrospective shame keep me firmly planted in a strong resolve to avoid creating more such flashbacks for my own torment.

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