Don’t sing that song again

I’ve been rummaging through my old CDs and playing them in the car, reliving the times and memories they evoke. The love affairs, the music festivals, longings, excitments and disppointment. But it this a good thing?

Songs, smells, sounds all have embedded themselves inside the part of my brain that serves as memory but they trap with them the powerful emotions, fears and feelings I experienced at the time. I’ve always loved a trip down Nostalgia Lane, coloured as it is with rose-coloured people and pristine buildings. I’m aware of the reality of the past but have often chosen a sanitized version rather than  see the shadows. It’s not good to dwell on the things you can’t change so let’s pretend they didn’t happen, right? Some people agree with this but lately I’ve been trying to open myself more and in doing so I’ve come to question all of the presumptions and ‘givens’ I believe in.

I think each person must make their own decisions about what is right or wrong for them. I’m not a follower of any particular creed or philosophy. I’m a bit of an eclectic, grabbing bits from here and there that work for me, so nothing I say is ever intended to be a recipe for other people to follow unless they want to stop over and rest before travelling on. For over 60 years I’ve tried to find something that makes perfect sense. A set of ideals that resonate and stop me striving for more answers. That hasn’t happened, but what has happened is that over those years I’ve evolved my own way of coping and moving forward, but it’s often included carrying a wound that won’t heal. I’ve reached a point now where I want to question and undermine everything that has kept me safe so far. Why?

I think it’s because I’ve grown sick of fear, of old songs and old explanations of why I am the way I am. What does it matter? A great deal, I suppose if I’m trying to work out how to interact with someone, to understand my reactions to them and their behaviours. But if I boil everything down to its lowest common denominator in the ‘now’ then we’re all just people, doing our best, often in very difficult circumstances. The past only owns us when we let it and to keep telling our same stories or singing our same songs keeps us trapped there.

I’m not saying I’m going to forget or never listen to old CDs but what I am going to do is listen, enjoy them then let them go; it’s the hanging on that causes the problems. I may need to be able to draw on the feelings and tensions in order to create authentic characters in my writing but I also need to be able to let them go when they outlive their usefulness. When the day draws to a close, it’s all about balance. And hope.

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