I started reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden this week. (I know, I KNOW, I should have done this a long time ago. I’ve heard it. I get it. I know as a writer this shouldn’t be so, but sometimes big books intimidate me. Please don’t judge my honesty.)
The first thing that captivated my attention was Steinbeck’s description of lush wildflowery landscapes. I want to live in those wildflowers, I thought as I read. Can you do that, can you live in wildflowers? If so, I’d like to figure out how. Man, this book is easy.
Then I turned the page.
“During the dry years, people forgot about the rich years, and when the wet years returned, they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”
That seems terribly off, I thought. Followed by, oh wait crap. That’s me he’s describing.
I like to pride myself on being someone who lives in the moment. When I go out of town, move, take on a new job or project, start a new relationship or end one, it’s quite easy for me to forget how I got there.
Often times it’s fear that leads me to this place. Fear of missing what once was; fear of the pain looking back might induce.
I spent most of yesterday contemplating this; contemplating the fierce pride that holds me places. Sometimes, when times are good, it’s simply that I falsely believe I’ve created my own destiny — I made these choices, I did this on my own, I don’t need anyone.
When times are rough however, it’s more often the fear of looking back and seeing mistakes I may have missed. Instead of reflecting on where I’ve taken wrong turns, I’d rather believe it was happenstance or worse, someone else’s fault. I don’t want to accept it was my doing that’s causing me to be stuck, causing me pain or causing my heart to break.
In the case above, for better or worse, it wasn’t really anybody’s doing. But while they couldn’t control the rain, perhaps they could have done better to recall the past.
It’s easy to forget. To place your head in the sand and deny what once was or even perhaps what currently is.
But I want to be someone who remembers. I want to give credit where it’s due and put blame to rest. I want to put aside fear and look back with confidence, knowing that glancing at what’s behind me doesn’t mean I have to build a house and live there.
I want to hold space for what once was, while creating room for what will be.
I’ll get there.