January 09, 2006

Brief shower of existential angst, followed by doubt

In helping to clean out my grandfather’s things, I took for myself a large number of old photographs, many of them of me when I was a child.

I gaze upon this child, with his hazel eyes holding an intense gaze and his skin kissed gold by the sun, and I don’t recognize him at all. I feel no kinship, no sense of immediacy, no relationship at all. It is as if I have never met the boy. I recognize the bookcase he is posed in front of, remember the color it was painted, even some of the books. I actually recall the t-shirt, it was a favorite. But of the boy, of the person, nothing. It is as if I have no connection to the past. When did that happen, I wonder?

I know I was not created fully formed, as if sprung up from the earth, a man with hair going gray at the temples and wearing a suit and a tie, a man with a mortgage and responsibilities, with children and a job. I’m not sure what happened to the child, the boy. My memories of him are evanescent.

Alienated from the past, is it any wonder that sometimes one feels adrift in the present? And thus, unsure, uncertain, unable to visualize the future?

Or is it all just a crock of shit?

Posted by Random Penseur at January 9, 2006 09:35 AM | TrackBack

RP: Sometimes I look at my old photo album at the pics of when I was a child and I can't remember the event at all. I know I was there...I'm in the pic! But I don't remember it. Strange hmmm? Maybe with all the stuff we have in our brains, the older memories get shoved out to make room. That is the only explanation I can think of.

Posted by: jules at January 9, 2006 03:51 PM

I'm sympathetic. I'm not even sure what happened to the girl that was me who was 18 and so full of herself/afraid of life.

I can't really relate to her and her views anymore. Personally, I'm grateful! :-)

Posted by: Amber at January 9, 2006 04:21 PM

I barely remember what happened last week, much less last year or 20-30 years ago. So don't feel bad, RP!

Posted by: grammarqueen at January 9, 2006 04:37 PM

a crock of shit.

you have the hands of a healthy, strong man.
reach out.
steady yourself in the present - with one...and grab the future with the other.

now damn it - if only i could follow my own stupid advice.
what is it they say?
something about - free advice being worth what you pay for it?

Posted by: sn at January 9, 2006 09:46 PM

Not a crock. Not at all.

Posted by: Kathy at January 10, 2006 12:11 AM

RP, this is an uncanny bit of insight. I feel no afinity with the little girl in old photos with skinny bowed legs. But I have an immense connection to the books she read, the music she heard, the songs she sang, and the poems she recited when I hear them being reiterated by children in the playground or spy reprints of the same books in my grandchildren's playroom.

Posted by: Roberta S at January 10, 2006 05:03 AM

Interesting timing on this -- just last night I pulled a book off the shelf that I hadn't looked at in ages. It seemed interesting, and I didn't remember much of what it said, so I took it upstairs to bed.

Openning the book, three photos from Thanksgiving 1996 fell out, followed by two photos from October 1995. I barely know myself, and those are only from 9 and 10 years ago! As another commenter said, I'm glad, though. I looked at the T-day photo from 1996 and remembered that deep down, I was a very unhappy person masquerading as happy and adjusted. How exhausting.

In some ways, I superficially looked nice...9 years younger, thinner face, smoother skin. In other ways (how I was dressed, FTLOG), I like me better now on the outside. On the inside...I genuinely like me now, and that's not something I could have said back then!

Posted by: Allison at January 10, 2006 01:39 PM

I've been thinking about this myself. The Alito hearings are all over the news and the recurring theme is "In 1985 you wrote this" with a response of "Yes I did. That was twenty years ago."

So I've been trying to think of what I was thinking and believing twenty years ago, the groups I was a part of that have no association with now, how I've changed in my attitudes and personalities. Basically I still love the things I loved back then but as far as I myself go I'm about as completely different as I can imagine. I have no "connection" with that me from two decades ago.

Posted by: Jim at January 11, 2006 08:26 AM

When I look at old photos of myself as a child, I feel protective and fond of that child... as if she were my own.

When I close my eyes and remember what it felt like to be that child, the view is from the inside out and doesn't always match the photos.

Posted by: Amy at January 11, 2006 09:56 AM
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