Almost everyone looks back at the past at times, it’s part of who and what we are. It’s one of the ways we try to find meaning and understanding…of ourselves and of others. It’s important. It’s important to embrace past joy, to celebrate life in its full spectrum of the rhythm of daily life, and to look straight on at past pain and our reactions to it. For me, over the years I have come to understand that it is inevitable that we will be hurt sometime, some way in life. Perhaps even harder to accept is that at some time, in some way we will cause other people pain, even if unintentionally, even unavoidably. That can be its own special kind of pain. As writers we try to capture our past and its place in our lives now. Self-reflection can lead us to a certain wisdom, make us better. If we choose to pursue these in the writing we might eventually want to share, each of us has to find our own way. I have reflected on the past, good and bad. I have learned. But I cannot wallow in the past. I don’t think it’s healthy for us individually. And, maybe strangely, I don’t think it’s good for us as writers. It would be so, so easy to get stuck there as a writer. Personally, I would become paralyzed. So I do, certainly, remember, reflect, take joy and sorrow, and write about all of life at different times. One of the great values I have found in reflecting on past events and phases, people and relationships, is the taking of responsibility of the things I personally am responsible for, ownership for causing someone else pain. Over my lifetime, I have come to understand that in doing so perhaps I become a better person, a wiser person, who can be there for other people. We all have our ways of expressing love and regret and the possibility for healing. I’m not going to say much about it here, but depression, anxiety and a host of other issues can contribute to this. For me, looking back at periods of my life that were painful to others as well as to myself, has helped me gain perspective and realize I do have the responsibility of managing my own condition. In that way not only I, but the people I love, will be well and able to have a full life. No one lives in a bubble. Everyone has issues to explore, or not, that contribute to who we are as writers. As people. It is not just a matter of illness. For some of us writers whatever issues we have dealt with in life will reveal themselves to a certain extent in our work. For some of us they will not. I am grateful that I have such a full, rich life. Is it messy? Sometimes. But good. I realize that my poetry deals with a number of aspects of life, love, nature, spirit. Only part of it looks back.
In a separate post I’m posting a reflective poem I wrote recently. The writing of the poem actually led to this post. This time it was a reverse translation for me…poem to prose. Its title is Flotsam.