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  • Andre Lamartin

Remembrances of a Past Life

Pain can never be the universal language of men because this world will always dispute a common understanding of it. As buddhists should well be aware, no self-respecting religion can simply teach its followers to avoid pain without first universally defining its meaning. One man's heavenly pleasure may very well be another's infernal pain. While so many long to forget, others desperately long to remember. Having recently lost my memory due to a tragic bout with electricity, I am now forced to search for remembrances of a past life. That a similar fate violently silenced Hemingway's creative hubris towards the twilight of his years is something not to be taken lightly, perhaps even leading to his untimely death.

Though dark is the beauty revealed only by light, many are the journeys of self-discovery from which there is absolutely no return. That darkness should eclipse the memory of sunnier days is a blindness unbecoming of someone who always cherished history, personal or otherwise. Just as a nation devoid of memory has no history to defend itself, the same is true of men. Atoning for mistakes we can no longer recall is just as challenging as feeling forgiven for sins we have no memory of confessing, much less expiating. Without remembering the past one can hardly contextualize the present and subsequently plan for the future. Strategic planning itself requires a breadth of view and a length of perspective entirely unforgiving towards those with compromised memories.

No wonder losing one's memory has a way of inebriating the mind to the many mysteries of a past life. Confusion sets in when a life story bears abyssal gaps that must now be refilled with some of the memories once in writing left behind. How grateful am I that this is even remotely possible, safeguarding me from wallowing in self-pity while comparing myself unfavourably with others less touched by tragedy. Time wasted simply comparing myself to others is time wasted not comparing me to my former self. A redemptive way to relive and remember the past has been to read my most sincere words so lovingly left behind, now desperately vying to come alive. For all that seems so implacably subject to change, not even time itself can efface true beauty when memory ages well.

With age comes the beauty of experience, a contemplative view of the past only a timeless future may provide. Adopting a more lenient and forgiving approach is well advised when setting forth to grasp the arc of one's life because many are the glaring mistakes only seen in hindsight. Distancing provides a strategic perspective that tactical proximity so often denies. For every major choice once made, many are the other options sacrificed along the way. Taking the road less traveled by has certainly made all the difference, just as the original poem goes. Why the passing of time should be such an impediment is one of the many tragedies of human mortality, if not will.

When asked how this ordeal affected my religious faith, considerable soul-searching revealed what a trying experience this has been. Understanding the meaning of eternity sometimes requires time itself to stop along the way. Doing so in a world that never sleeps presents a very special challenge for the many, if not the few. I tried revisiting special places only to realize it was the company of the people involved, and not merely the locations, that most revived my memories. Listening to the acoustic version of the song "Colours" by Emma Hewitt made me wonder what I would have changed in the rerun of my life, if only I could do it all again.

In the end, there comes a time when reliving the past only makes sense if you don't have a future worth looking forward to. Remembering and understanding the past should never mean eternally wallowing in it at the costly expense of a much brighter future. There's always a difference between doing time and being done by it. Allowing past mistakes to impinge upon one's present sense of self-worth can only bear unnecesary pain. No wonder a scarred and battered self-esteem can sometimes account for female companionship of the most questionable kind.

Despite the seemingly irreparable loss of so many memories, at once so close to my heart and dear, many are the timeless lessons not so easily forgotten or from my mind eternally effaced. Much wisdom is not necessarily required before accepting and embracing occasionally unforeseable change as a normal part of life. Sometimes one has to be prepared to kill his former self if a new and improved one is to be born. A righteous kill in defense of life is certainly preferable to our own untimely demise. A warrior who betrays past glories remains forever unprepared for future victories. The best lesson a weak man can teach another is how to be strong. But if the truth was always meant to set me free, why have so many lies been the death of me?

Only those who defend the truth are more hated than those who simply speak it. Feeling persecuted only for being sincere is an unfortunate burden the truthful must be prepared to bear. This much is certainly worth remembering. Dejectedly staring at myself in the mirror only to have a mysterious stranger cryptically glare back at me is a sobering experience always defiant of my limited patience. Grateful as I am for the words so thoughtfully left behind, to live by the words of another man is the only acceptable form of bondage when they are an inextricable part of my own heart. As we all should know, hope never dies while the heart remains alive. If there still is a war to be had, there still is a war to be won. No fallen hero forever fallen remains.


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