What good comes from the past?

There are many different options available to anybody that would want to answer this question. I've heard them all, and I thought hard on every single one of them: the past is what you are, it defines you. Or, the past doesn't exist, nor does the future, and only the present is real. The past is where you committed mistakes that you can now learn to avoid. Etc, etc...

Footprint and seagull feather. Luderitz Peninsula, Namibia.

All of them are partly true, and aspects of each of them resonate within me. But today, a new thought emerged, and it sort of rocked the lazy calm of my housebound, stormy, hot, summer afternoon.
The past is painful, it is no more, and it is everywhere. It smiles cunningly, and seduces us deep inside our hearts, while at the same time deriding us for our petty longings.
Gloomy? Well, yes, I can tell you it wasn't a cheerful five minutes after I elaborated the above thought, but lately I haven't found much room to hide this kind of sentiments regarding all that I left behind, all the moments, the encounters, the laughs and the cries, the travels, the loves, the parties, the friends. All gone. Furthermore, when for any reason I don't like what I've become, I experience sadness, self-criticism, and discomfort. I feel stuck, and problems begins.
Needless to say, acceptance is the key, even if, as human beings, we can't get over what we've done and wonder endlessly how we could have done it differently. If we believe that our past defines us in some way or another, at least it isn't wasted, because we now use those experiences, and what we learnt from them, to be who we are, possibly a better, more complete, and understanding person.

To go back to the question that started the post then, can there be good in the past? Memories, I believe, can be good, as long as we are detached enough from them. My road trip around Namibia in April was a good time, and I want to remember it that way.

Moon rising on the Spitzkoppe, Namibia.

Collective nest, near Aus, Namibia.

Sunrise on the Naute Dam, Namibia.

Below is a short poem I wrote today about it.

Namibia's dusty roads,
Namibia's blue skies,
It is hot and sweaty days,
Cool and windy nights.

It never ends, it never stops,
not a soul for a hundred miles,
on and on you drive on straight roads
next to you your companion smiles.

Wake up with the morning sun,
Bade farewell at night,
Sunset is nothing but a pause,
In Namibia's blissful light.

I miss now hot and sweaty days,
Cool and windy nights,
Namibia's dusty roads,
the daily promise of blue skies.

Click here to see more images from Namibia — don't forget to select full screen mode on the bottom right corner of the page.


Michele | Monday, 03 August, 2009

I do agree with these 2:

The past is painful, it is no more, and it is everywhere.

Memories, I believe, can be good, as long as we are detached enough from them.

I think something valuable on the topic has been written by Nietzche in "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" if you interpret on "small scale personal level" part of what he wrote about big-scale history.

Another monday morning thought:

Life's a Markov Chain.
In mathematics, a Markov chain, named after Andrey Markov, is a stochastic process with the Markov property. Having the Markov property means that future states depend only on the present state, and are independent of past states. In other words, the description of the present state fully captures all the information (coming from the past) that could influence the future evolution of the process. Being a stochastic process means that all state transitions are probabilistic.

Dani Bora | Monday, 03 August, 2009


thanks a lot for your words. I will definitely look into both Nietzche's "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" and Markov Chain.


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