So when Bob told me to start writing down my story last week, I didn’t know where this would take me. It was a leap of faith. A surrender, an act of trust in a teacher.
The first few days were the hardest. All darkness in there, digging up roots, examining the soil.
It wasn’t where I wanted to go.
I took a lot of naps.
I did a lot of laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling.
Classic procrastination. Watched Downton Abbey.
Sometimes I wrote.
But then something happened. What always happens when a great teacher is at work in your life.
The past shifted. From something that still hurt and ached and festered, it became words, pages, a book that I can carry in my laptop bag.
Nothing more than that.
Only a week and a half into the month of memoir writing so far. And the 45 pages already written, at Bob’s suggestion, prove to me: That was then. This is now.
So much fear, so much rage–all of it old responses to things that don’t exist anymore. Like the confines of an old pot. A good gardener removes the orchid that has outgrown its limitations. And gradually, day by day, hour by hour, its roots vine outward through the soil, discovering the new and less restricting dimensions of its world.
Faulkner may be right that the past is always with us. But it is distinct from the now. Sometimes, sure, we have to go back there and pull out parts of ourselves we may have left behind and lost. To remember what should be remembered. To call by their proper names all the terrors and joys of youth.
But then, we straighten from the place on the path where we kneel, weighed down by grief or memory. We rise. And we shoulder our pack, and we hike onward, up this mountain we all climb.
That was then.
This is now.