“I am not now
That which I have been” ~ Lord Byron
I have a hand-written letter sitting next to me. It’s not finished yet, but when it is it will be a very important letter to a very important person. Almost nobody hand-writes letters anymore–I briefly toyed with it back as a freshman, then gave it up. Now I only save the most important words I’ll ever need to say for pen and paper and inside private envelopes. I had to stop writing though, because I was just overwhelmed.
I’m not the person I thought was.
In my mind’s eyes, I see my avatar walking through a darkened hallway of shiny funhouse mirrors. Each of them represents a facet of who I once was, and how I now remember it. Stages of my life, reduced to a hallway of fading memories. I can the elementary boy, precocious and slightly effeminate with an active imagination and afraid to leave the boundaries of home. I see the middle school boy, awkward and fighting to figure out what he is. I see the high school boy, a ferocious firebrand who was unafraid to cut people down, a raging rabble-rouser who didn’t know how to calm down or think things through. There is college, the broken boy who fell down a thousand miles, who had to learn how to climb again.
And now, at the end of this hallway, there are two more mirrors with two signs above them. Before and Now. In one mirror, I see my own reflection. The reflection I’ve become very familiar with. Yet, when I look up the sign says Before. Behind me in the other mirror is someone new. A stranger I knew that was lurking somewhere, who as it turned out had been hiding in plain sight.
I called the last four years the Wilderness, because I needed to go away and I needed to fix the person I had become in college. I had to rehabilitate that boy. I had to leave. One year for every year of damage that had been done. One year to figure out what kind of animal I really was.
You’re never going to be the person you thought you would be, and you’re never going to be the person you think you are. You need to love whatever that thing is you’ll end up being, or else you will die.
A lot of people spend a lot of time running away from the changes that happen. I see it all around me. Lives stuck in static, never moving and never going anywhere. You may not be interested in change, but change is interested in you.
But I’m out of the Wilderness now, and I can see a new world out there. I feel like an explorer, gazing on new lands I heard about in rumor and legend. You’ve heard the words, you’ve heard what to expect, but what the eyes see and what the heart feels can’t be prepared for with what the mind thinks.
I’m going to lose more people. I’m going to see friends gone under the tyranny of distance. There might be more that I join hands with, or there might be less. And already in these first moments, I feel like I’m writing with new hands, tapping keys with foreign fingertips, and feeling my spirit walk into some new body. I wanted to panic and tell everybody about it, but communication just becomes harder even as it gets easier. I thought I might try it here.
I’m out of the Wilderness now. Four years of pain, healed. The wounds have scabbed over and I’ll try to break the bad habit of picking at them. I know who I am, for now. I’ll keep that close to my heart. People say a lot of things about who they are and what they’re all about, but that seems more like reassurances to themselves. What is this thing I will become. What will become of that person of the past.
“Life goes on,” I hear. Sometimes it doesn’t, but then sometimes it does. Life goes on.
Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει