I don't know why I just wrote that story, the one about the dog. It occurred to me last night, came into my head, kept on bugging me, and my first reaction was, "No." I didn't want to write it. I knew it would end badly. I knew it would be about pain and abuse and powerlessness. I wondered what dark corner of my soul drove me to express all that anguish.
There's a theory floating around, mostly in these reality shows that I never watch (except Hoarders), that we somehow recreate (and recreate and recreate) the conditions of our childhood, especially the pain and grief. THIS time it's going to be different. It's a dynamic that comes out in relationships. Daddy will be gentle this time, Mommy won't end up in the psych ward, brother won't set fires and go to jail. Or just: I won't be a wimp, I won't be unpopular, THIS time I'll test myself at home, at work and at play, and come up shining.
And you know what happens?
You don't win, because you can't. Childhood may be the template for adulthood, but I've started to think our only hope of being happy (unless we've been incredibly blessed with a happy childhood and unconditional love) is to shed it, shuck it off. Let it drop off like dead skin or a turtle shell.
I love a certain Bible quote, from Lamentations I think, which I put in one of my comments to good ol' Matt, my most faithful reader: it's all about being "new every morning".
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Oh, so it's the Lord's great love that is new every morning, not us! If we're not so new, then we're obviously made from the crazy-quilt scraps of the past. It's hard to shake, after all. Why did we evolve with such acute memories, and why is the loss of memory considered such a catastrophe? Isn't it really a blessing in disguise?
And yet, and yet. Having said all that, I have a problem with the currently wildly-popular "power of now" theories that purport to solve every problem you ever had. Those psychologists on TV who hold the hands of hoarders as they scream bloody murder at their families say things like, we must live in the moment. "Now" is the only time we have.
That pretty much does away with planning of any kind. There goes your estate, eh? And learning? How can you learn from the past, or from anything for that matter, in a sealed bubble of "now"?
If we always lived in the now, human evolution would not have taken place, or at least not beyond the level of chimps, who are fully capable of ripping the faces off their loving caregivers. We evolved to learn from the past and plan for the future, so we wouldn't bloody starve or get eaten by something bigger than we were.
I've got nothing against the concept of "now", in fact for the most part it beats the pants off the past, except that it doesn't really exist. It could be said, as time slides along, that it's always now (for what other time can it be? The future? The past?). But at the same time, because time does not stand still even for a nanosecond, there is no "now", nothing static, not even a "moment" that we can stand still to apprehend. So if it's always now, and never now, for the love of God, could someone please explain to me: what time is it?