A little sad about the things that will never be.

I was just telling you about my valiant garage cleaning attempt from yesterday. Part of what I was doing was going through some


Photograph (Photo credit: http://www.robertorey.es)

photographs from my Mother’s side of the family. I’ve mentioned before that my Mother died when I was 9. I’m still trying to deal with that a lot of days. My Grandmother was moving, and had a lot of extra family photos that she wanted to give me the pick of.

I was pretty conflicted about a lot of these pictures. I really wanted to have some of them. I wanted to have the photos and the memories. I wanted the photos of different times in my family’s lives. I wanted some photos of a “happier” time in my life. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time staring at pictures of my Mother, who died when I was 9, hooked up to machines in a hospital. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time looking at pictures of my Grandfather, who died when I was 19, at home in pain from bone cancer. I definitely didn’t want to spend any time looking  at pictures of my step-father, who is still alive and I wish he wasn’t, for so many reasons I can’t get into them now. I’ll share later, I promise.

I managed the sorting and choosing portion pretty well. I took some, left others. I tried to not end up with doubles or very similar ones. I also noticed that my Grandparents got A LOT of portraits taken. I did alright though. I wasn’t too sad or too angry. I ended up with some nice photos. I took them all home in their frames, to protect them. I figured I’d just throw the frames away later. This is what I had to go through in my own garage. I needed to take them out of their protective frames and take them inside. This was the part that got hard.

My family has always kept a relatively accurate photographic archive. Most of the photos are portrait type shots, and they take them every few years or so. That means that through the course of my 28 years, I have seen photos from every hairstyle and fashion fad. I’m not unfamiliar with pictures of my Mother from high school, or myself in questionable attire. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sadness.

When my Mother died, I wasn’t quite old enough to understand. I have enough memories to miss her, but I wasn’t old enough to know what had happened until later. I understood that she wasn’t around anymore, that it was sad, and that she wouldn’t be able to come back. It wasn’t until much later that I began to understand what it means for someone to have died. I only now understand what it means that someone, especially my Mother, died while I was still in elementary school.

When my Grandfather died, I knew what it all was going to mean. I was as alright as I was going to be with his death when it happened. My Grandfather was a vibrant and vigorous  man. He was sweet and he was passionate about so many things. When he got bone cancer, we first thought it would be easier for him than others. He would never show his hurt and he would be the same lively and dignified man as always. The cancer destroyed him. He hurt so much and only showed us a little bit. He wasn’t able to get up and do things like before. He was sad and tired and he was never sad and tired. I was so happy  for him when he passed away quietly at home, because he was in pain and because he was not my Grandfather. He was not, at that time, the man everyone knew and loved. I refuse to remember him that way.

I wasn’t prepared for how all of those photos would force me to feel. Make no mistake, they forced it upon me. They forced me to remember how pretty my Mother was. They made me see the happiness in her eyes. They captured my eyes with my Grandfather’s handsomeness. They took my will to look away from his lively eyes and smile. They gave me no option to escape my step-father’s false mask. They refused my attempts to forget that he was alive.

As I took all of those photos out of their frames and gathered them to keep safe inside, I had no choice but tho remember how happy we had been before our world came unglued. I won’t say that my life was better before. I am everything that I am because of the sum total of my life. I was happy before it all began to tear at the seams. I was less happy after my Mother died. Anyone would be.

What I had been avoiding thinking about and couldn’t avoid yesterday was how that all applies to my life from here on out. Those people I love and respect so much will never get to see what kind of a man I turn into. I’m a man now, but I know I’m not finished becoming what I will be. They will never get to see how it happened or what it will be. They will never get to see me have children. They won’t get to see what they become. That’s what makes me the saddest. 

One of these days I’ll come to terms with that. I’ll be able to accept that that is the way it has to be. I think what will help is knowing who WILL get to see those things happen. My still living parents and grandparents. They are the ones that will have to be loving and proud to my future children. 

I suppose eventually I will be able to get past it all. It seems that sometimes the only way to truly be able to be okay with something like this is to look back and realize you’ve been okay with it for awhile now. Seeing that you’ve made that peace in hindsight is sometimes the only way it can truly come into focus. 

Until then, I’ll just have to not be scared to think of when it hadn’t begun to crack yet. I will have to accept that thinking about that will make me sad. Sometimes, I will just have to be sad.

This is weird

Had a weird sort of experience yesterday. Can I assume that you’re familiar with the VH1 “I love the…” or “Best of the…” series. Good,

VH1 Network Identification 1985

VH1 Network Identification 1985 (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

because I just assumed it. Well, yesterday afternoon they were running “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” I had a surreal kind of experience here.

For those of you unaware, I’m 28. Born in 1985. So 2000 through 2010 went right through my young adult years. That’s Sophomore year of high school through all of college into the beginning of my adult life. In that decade, I graduated high school, graduated college, moved out of my parents house, got engaged, got married, and lived with The Wife for the first time, not necessarily in that order. I also went from age 15 to age 25. So I was actively listening to music and making judgments on what I liked. Not really formative years, but years in which I was growing into the man that I currently am. I know that music.

What made this so crazy is this: Most of those shows, like “I Love the 80’s” or “I Love the 90’s”, happened while I was relatively young. The songs and trends they talk about still up memories of my childhood. They are frequently coated in a thick layer of nostalgia. I usually watch some of those and then start a conversation like “I remember when I …” Everything with those has some tie to a simpler time in my life. “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” Was completely different.

First off, those years weren’t quite long enough ago to be covered in nostalgia yet. Not everything is yet seen through those sepia-tinted glasses that let you forget the bad things. More strangely though, I still think of a lot of those songs as ‘current’.

Now , just because I think of something as ‘current’ does not make it so. I’m starting to get to the age where my version of things is slightly distorted from reality. I’ve never been one to really listen to the radio and stay up on the really current stuff. This is only exacerbated by my turning into a grumpy(ier), old(er), man.

It was very strange though, for there to be a retrospective-type show about things I didn’t realize we were that far past. In the world of entertainment, where a month is a year, the 2 and a half years since the end of 2010 means we’re quite far removed from the “2000’s” That’s why it was so weird. I know were well into the 10’s or Teens, but I hadn’t noticed.

I’m not trying to complain about it, I just felt weird seeing a “Remember When…” show when I didn’t think I needed to be reminded. Some people will tell you that if it isn’t sitting in front of me(and sometimes then) that I probably needed reminded of it. I have to say, I really enjoyed their selection of songs though. Thinking about it, I think I prefer the ‘year-to-year’ set up as opposed to the ‘Top 100’ list. ‘Year-to-year’ keeps everything grouped together, the list format jumped around. That just made it stranger.

Ever had anything like that remind you of where you are in life? Just kind of popped up and said ‘hey, this is last decade!’?

An Exercise in Frustration

There’s something about the Human Mind that forces us to act irrationally and participate in thought patterns that serve no purpose.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just the other day, I wrote about my bad habit of getting too caught up in nostalgia. Well, I was watching an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” and it brought me back to a topic I’d previously discussed with a friend of mine: What If?

‘What If? -ing’ is just a hypothetical version of nostalgia. You take a time or turning point in your life an attempt to extrapolate it out into an entirely alternate reality. It can be a fun little exercise or diversion sometimes, but most of the time it’s just an exercise in frustration.

I think it’s pretty obvious that as I said before, there’s no way to ever try to recreate those previous circumstances. There’s no way ever know what would have actually happened because so many different things can affect our personalities and experiences that there’s no way control the environment. Sometimes all that ‘What If? -ing’ just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It can be such a dangerous little rabbit hole to fall into. By engaging in the very exercise, you start with a morbid kind of curiosity, or worse a dissatisfaction at your current circumstances. That means that everything you think about will be colored with an idea that “everything would have been better with just this one little change.” You’re setting yourself up for more disappointment at your current situation and and extra helping of frustration at your inability to actually know if that is what would have happened.

Which brings me to the real thought that got me interested enough to post about this: Do you really want to know? That was the twist in the television episode I watched. You can ask ‘What If?’ as much as you want. Sometimes, there’s an actual answer to that question. Sometimes there’s a reason that you didn’t make a different choice. You might not want to know that reason.

That’s the problem with asking too many hypothetical questions and always examining every little detail of your life: sometimes you might not like the answer. I’m sure that there are times when we might need a jolt like this to make a proactive major change. There are more times when it might cause you to open a Pandora’s Box of problems that needn’t have ever been touched again.

This is the sort of thing that is hard to remember when you have an active imagination. ‘What If? -ing’ seems like it would all be in good fun. You have source material, personal experience, and lots of curiosity. “What could it hurt?” you think. It’s a hard activity to avoid.

Just something to consider the next time you catch yourself thinking ‘What If?’ You might just be in for more disappointment. More importantly, do you really want to know the answer and the reason?

Bad Habit

I have a bad habit. Well, I have lots of them. This time I’m referring to a particular one that I think a lot of us share.

Nostalgia's not what it used to be

Nostalgia’s not what it used to be (Photo credit: marc e marc)

I tend to spend a lot of time think about “how it was.”

That’s not such a big deal sometimes. We all get nostalgic from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem that some of us run into, is that we start thinking that things ‘were better when…’

There’s a serious flaw in that logic. Things may have been better at a previous time. The difference is, that we are never that person again. Not exactly, anyway. Whatever event it is that we’re trying to re-live or re-create changed us in some way. Every little event acts in concert to turn us into the people that we are at this very moment. Going back wouldn’t allow you to take all the knowledge you’ve gained and the person you are back to that previous time.

We are ever-changing entities. Life is a series of moments. The Doctor might argue that time is “A big ball of wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey stuff,” but that doesn’t stop us from perceiving it as linear. Since we perceive it as linear, then it makes a lot more sense to view everything as operating in series, as opposed to in parallel. That means that at any given moment, you can never be what you once were. It’s impossible because every situation, every decision, every action no matter how minute changes us.

As an ever-changing creature it’s sometimes hard to decide if we are growing or sinking, better or worse, than we were just a few moments ago. The biggest issue with thinking this way is that you’re always perceiving everything through a macroscopic lens. Everything looks huge and it’s hard to see where on thing ends and another begins. We’re too close to the graph line to figure out if it’s headed up or down or neither. The best thing we can do its to take a step back every so often.

In order to see the bigger picture or the graph, you have to take a step back and do some evaluating. For instance, It’s hard to say whether I’m overall a better person today than I was yesterday, but I can tell you almost for sure that I’m better than I was 2 years ago. You might call it perspective, but the goal is to try to look at things on the whole as opposed to on a moment to moment basis.

It’s just something to think about the next time you ind yourself not just nostalgic for someone or something from your past, but really wanting to be back there. Even if you went back, it wouldn’t be the same. you’d just end up disappointing yourself. So enjoy those feelings of nostalgia, but remember that you are an infinitely different person than you were even last week. It can just be hard to see that until you can look at it over a larger period of time.

Do you ever catch yourself doing this? Do you try to re-capture it? or just enjoy the moment?