Sorting out over the weekend I found a card from a dear friend who is no longer here. Inside together with her love were these.... Wise words.....
I have an uneasy relationship with memories, a vexed alliance with the past.
Almost invariably I want to "clean it up," to excise the sad sections and leave out the parts of the story that still hurt, and in the retelling to somehow sidestep those times that, deep down, I cannot forget.
If we would only tell and remember the good times, I used to think, perhaps we could draw more of them to ourselves? "Cleaning things up" is a habit you learn early, before you have a chance to ponder the extent to which it will constrain your life.
It's all well and good to clean things, but when we turn to tidying up the past, whitewashing the events and people who have profoundly shaped us - all of them - we've laid our hands roughly on something priceless: the knowledge that we can walk through pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, with equal grace or clumsiness, as the case may be, that what counts is that we get through somehow.
More troubling, perhaps, we've comprised the chance to walk beside the person we follow.
The process of walking alongside must account for good and bad alike.
Following only the good means we follow the phantom, nothing more.
To find the real person, we have to be careful what we clean.