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15 oktober 2003

Shining Moon, Stubborn Moon


We often speak in terms of the Past, or at least in terms of the Goodness or the Badness of Living-In, Dwelling-On or Baggage-Contained-Within the Past.

The Being-Judgy part is always aimed at the Past. The Present is just a point in time, never standing still long enough to be noticed, so that's disqualified. But the Future just hangs out there, out in front of us. It's a fixed point, already determined and we are only working or plodding towards that. So why do we take such a hands-off approach to it?

We never assign a rich pageantry to the future, only to the past. You never hear anyone saying someone is blessed with a wealth of future, nor do we think that having more future than someone else can qualify you as an authority on anything. Maybe it's a natural consequence of attaining more and more past and then parlaying that otherwise-useless past into a basis for authority or even wisdom. That's only choice left for those folks who are increasingly invested in their own pasts. And we're all accumulators in that sense.

But what if there were wisdom to be respected simply because someone is future-heavy, because they're lacking past? It's a point of view that reeks of the Possible. It's a posture that favors the future, because there's not enough past to be of any help. It's an attitude that dares to make leaps forward instead of trips backward. Trust, Faith and Hope all depend on that Fixed Future. Suspicion, Religion and Doubt all depend on people depending too heavily on the past.

It's ironic, then, that all the best fiction, all the best entertainment, is so future-minded. The Protagonist depends on nothing but the existence of the future. That it will be there when he's done with his story or at least his task. Nay-sayers, antagonists....those are the ones who are sure that the Protagonist will fail simply because everyone else in the past has failed. But a Protagonist never loses his own sense of the future.

My sense of the future was the most significant casualty to my Self when my former partner, Allen, got sick and then, well...got dead. In the two years we were together, my sense of the future became more and more attenuated, first manifested as a shying-away from discussing annual events (next Christmas, next Summer, my 32nd birthday, etc.). That progressed to segments of a year, then months. When I simply lost the ability to consider events beyond the month ahead, I became very good friends with the Moon.

Sister Moon up in the sky was the most dependable, most-depended-on thing in the entire world. And that went on for month after month after month. Her leaving was as comforting to me as her full face, because I knew she would always be back. That I would always be back, but I could not count on Allen to be back as well. He could not give me that reassurance.

In Allen's final weeks, I had to say goodbye even to Moon. The regularity of her visits made no sense to me because by then the future had become no more than a week out. Then a day. Then an hour. Then the next 15 minutes, waiting to push a button on the home pump to give extra morphine, shepherding what was left of him to his own future. A future that no longer included me. A future I couldn't comprehend.

My sense of my future was long in recovering. He died over eight years ago, and only in the last few days have I fully restored it. It wasn't a linear, gradual process, at least not all of it. In the beginning, after the end, there was no future and only the present. That sort of zombie mode where you are functional, but have almost no sense of self, no tangibility. Then one day, Moon was back.

I have been able to consider futures more distant than what is covered in a single Lunar cycle, but not much more than that, until very recently. And mind you, during this time I was in a couple of relationships, one very bad one and one pretty good one.

But in these latter days, with Sam, it's quite different. One day I casually said, “Next summer I'll take you up to Guerneville with me, and to NX5 the year after that.”

One day, early on as far as these relationship things go, I was told we'd be together for a long, long time. I was told that I would be happier than I've ever been, that it would be the best thing that ever happened to me. And do you know what? It's all coming true, these things said by someone with a lot more future and a lot less past than I have.

So I can talk in terms of the years ahead and it feels good to be back with my eye on that distant apex of a fixed future. It feels good to be the Protagonist again. It's where I've always belonged.

Posted by jeff at 15 oktober 2003 19:45

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