Fandango provocatively asks…
“So this week’s question is for you to discuss what you think about Zadie Smith’s quote. Do you believe that the past is always tense, the future perfect?”
I suggest you visit Fandango’s link to get the full sense of what he’s on about before you try to make sense of my jabber, but do as you will. Obviously, I am going to speak only to my limited experience on this.
In most cases, I believe people engage in a cognitive dissonance regarding their past. Well, let me back up. A disclaimer: Memory is notoriously unreliable. Even our short-term memories can be wrongola, so the idea that we can accurately remember what happened decades back and make judgments from there? Pffft. Let’s get that out of the way. Okay then.
Do I believe the past is always tense? Well, no! That’s silly. Some people say they had wonderful childhoods. Others have had or are currently in long, happy relationships. These people may or may not be optimistic regarding the future, depending upon a whole bunch of factors, including their individual personalities. That married man I was with for 2.5 years was a “glory days” guy, always telling stories of how much fun he’d had back when, and how the future would never measure up. Always nice to hear, amirite? 🙄
I’m somewhere in the middle, as usual. I had an okay childhood, not great, not awful. I recognize that my memories might be inaccurate and there is no one around to verify anything with. I accept responsibility for my part in failed relationships as an adult, which mostly connects to choosing the wrong men and then doubling down. [Note to self: Don’t do that.]
I’m kinda gloomy about the future, I admit. Maybe it’s a function of where I live, but I see people working their butts off and just getting nowhere. Is this happening in “the heartland” as well as on the coasts? You work a normal full-time job, plus maybe do some part-time work too, and can barely afford to rent an apartment? Forget ever buying a house unless Grandma leaves you one or you win the lottery. Maybe you save and save and can buy something with a group of others, but that’s not exactly “the American dream,” to live like a college student decade after decade.
Okay, so Fandango’s post was more about learning from your mistakes in order to create a perfect future. How realistic is that though? I’ll be 60 in 1.5 years. I understand I could have done many things better, but those chances are gone. I can’t redo where I went to college (passed on Northwestern and UCLA like a freaking idiot). I can’t improve my relationship with my parents because they’re both dead. I can’t make it 1995 again and fix my marriage with what I know now.
Learning is great, but opportunities do not stay available forever. Times change, the dogs bark, the caravan moves on. 🐶
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