Monday, March 11, 2013

PAST IMPERFECT

I actually wore these glasses in 1993. Looking at the pic from a 21st century perspective, I can only shake my head and wonder what in God's name I was thinking. There is nothing good to say about them, and plenty bad.

But I remember trying them on, relatively sane and perfectly sober, and thinking: hey hey, these are some fucking STYLISH specs. And then turning up the jams to catch some Tag Team, maybe some Spin Doctors while I was at it.

Jesus, now that I think about it, 1993 really sucked.

But that's not right, either. The year of the monstrous specs also brought Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" and Groundhog Day, and both of those things hold up quite well, 20 years later.

It's all in how we look at the past, and what we choose to remember with clear heads and hearts.

It doesn't take a whip-smart mind to warp what was and pretend it all sucked. People do it all the time. They break up and paint their former lover as a monster, someone so terrible they'd rather drink poison than ever have to see them again — which begs the question: If they were so bad in the first place, and you willingly took up with them, what's wrong with you? What's wrong with your memory?

People often choose to be selective in what they remember; the alternative — the truth — is often too terrible to stomach. Take me and those godawful glasses: it would be a lot easier to simply say I was waaaaay too high when I bought them, rather than admit I had an appalling lack of fashion sense (and yeah, come to think of it, that hat sucked ass, too). But hey, we all have our lapses. Everyone who grew up in the 1970s had bell-bottom jeans — every last one of you, and don't try weaseling your way out of the truth. Everyone who lived through the disco era wore too much polyester and put on clothes that should never have been manufactured. Everyone who thought they were cool in the 1980s did cocaine, or acted like they did. Every child of the '90s had a gigapet and pogs and thought about doing the Macarena.

None of that shit was cool, but we couldn't see past the moment, we had to embrace the terrible with the great (like grunge in the '90s) so it would all make sense. If we're lucky, once there's a little distance between us and the past we can turn around and look at what was and accept it — all of it, the shitty and the grand, the sweet and the sad — and make peace with where we've been and where we're going, and why parts of the past will inevitably emerge again and help create bridges for our futures.

In the past couple months I've had to work hard to reconstruct parts of my memory. With a lot of reading, a lot of asking questions, a lot of meditation, I've cobbled most of it back together. It's not perfect, but neither are the memories. Then again, the ones I treasure most are perfect, or as close to perfection as life allows; they were that way when I experienced them, and no amount of rewriting by anyone else can change that truth.

Past imperfect: from the Latin imperfectus — unfinished, incomplete, like most of what has been in this ongoing journey called life. Ahead lies the past. Long live the future.

1 comment:

Donna said...

Glasses aside, you were the best-dressed man I knew in 1993.