Monday, October 16, 2006

I Ain't 'Fraid of No Ghost!

I feel as if I've been haunted lately. I spent a weekend in Athens and Atlanta. Then this past weekend, I was in New York. So many memories. Whenever I visit one of those cities (oh and add Knoxville to the list), I feel like I've traveled back in a time machine to observe the past. Everything is just as I remember it. Though sadly, some things have changed. Chelsea Espresso Bar is no longer, but the awning is still there.

It's as though I've lived different lives. And when I travel to one of those cities where I lived one of those past lives, I have to revisit those memories. I was so happy when I lived in Athens and when I lived in New York. Going back to one of those cities makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I remember all the good times. And sad because my life seems so different now. I'm very happy here in DC too, though, which is good. Sometimes I'm very aware of the fact that I will not always be here. Someday, I will leave, and I will feel then about DC the way I feel now about Athens and New York.

Atlanta is a whole other story. I don't like the person I was when I lived there. That wasn't me. I've never been that person before that time, and I pray I never will be again. It was a bad time for me. So although I did have a lot of fun when I lived there, I find myself only able to feel the bad memories and a bad feeling overtakes me whenever I visit again.

The past is so funny. We have the power to recreate it. Our minds work in such subjective ways that we can manipulate the past, sometimes without even meaning to, and it takes over us and changes our reality. I had bad times in Athens surely and definitely bad times in New York, but both of those were such positive, life-changing and life-affirming times for me that I can't seem to see them for the-good-and-the-bad that they were. The past not only has the power to alter the truth, but it has the power to change our present.

But it really only has the power that we give it. I told a friend last weekend that he is never happy with what he has. I believe that's because he is afraid of the future, afraid of who he is in the present and always imagines that things in the past were better.

I can sometimes get lost in how good things were in the past also and have to remind myself of all the blessings in my present life. But for me, I think my real struggle is with the future. I see so many endless possibilities and opportunities and choices. I want so much to find in the future something better than the past and the present that it often makes me a little fickle. I think that's part of the reason I've moved around so much. I don't want to miss out on anything great. And I love the thrill of the adventure and the optimism that I feel when I facilitate change. Sometimes, when I'm dating someone, I think about the other guys out there. And I have even not commited to a relationship because I wondered if there was something better out there for me and didn't want to limit myself. That's awful, isn't it?

In the past year, I've done different things to stay focused on the present. It's challenging at times, but I think that because the previous year was so difficult, it's easier to realize what I have now. And I'm trying to channel that longing and curiosity for the future into a desire to improve myself in the present. We do learn a little along the way.

So I guess there's nothing wrong with nostalgia or ghosts. As long as we use them as fuel and don't let them derail us from the joy and magic of the present moment.


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