Dearest Rachel –
Lars asked me yesterday, as we were walking through the forest preserve by Oakton College and Beck Lake, how much I’ve been telling you about what’s going on in my life. He suggests I not tell you quite as much as I do, if only for the fast that there are other eyes that will see these letters. He’s not the first one to do so, and it’s a thin line that I walk in my effort to tell you about my state of mind and the things that swirl around it since you had to leave. But I think that, for the most part, I try to walk that line between transparency and oversharing.
The thing is, I’m getting myself involved in so many different things, and have so many thoughts about the world about me and my place in it; I need to know whether I’m on the right path or not.
Even fools seem to be wise if they keep quiet; if they ·don’t speak [L keep their lips shut], they appear to understand.Proverbs 17:28, Expanded Bible
That’s sound advice for not looking or sounding like a fool; but what if you want to find out whether your opinions and decisions are foolish or not before going ahead and saying or making them? You have to speak up, and let others point out your folly before you exercise it, and get into real trouble. That requires talking about certain choices and attitudes, and (hopefully) getting the advice of those wiser than I.
Now, it’s possible that, by even saying and doing what I’m doing, I’m violating that principle by ignoring Lars’ counsel, but it’s not like I can go to him about everything. To put it in a nutshell, these letters are (among so many other things) a means toward crowdsourcing either affirmation or redirection, depending on the situation and whether my own choices are proper or not.
At the same time, he has commended me for having been able to grow as much as I have in these past nearly sixteen months now. Still, what else can I do? It isn’t as if I can turn back the clock, after all. Unlike every other dimension we can perceive, time only allows us to move in one direction. We call it ‘forward,’ but that’s because that’s what we call the direction we’re moving in regardless. Any of the compass points, by contrast, can be ‘forward’ or ‘backward,’ depending on where we’re heading. Time is unique in that sense.
I won’t say that I can’t afford to look back; in a way, it’s part of what I’m doing even now as I’m talking to you. I know I don’t share as many memories of you as I’d like to – and certainly none of the affirmations of undying love that I thought I would when I first started writing you – but they do come up, and I try to touch on them when they do. It isn’t as if I’m forbidden to do so, lest I turn into a pillar of salt or some such. There are some who say that ‘the past was the worst,’ and while that may be true on a macro level, on a personal one, there was love and beauty in those days gone by, and denying that fact cuts a giant wedge out of one’s own life.
But it doesn’t do either of us any good to try to live in that past. It doesn’t exist anymore, and the best thing to do is to create as livable a present (and as promising a future) as can be done until the time comes that I get to leave and see you once again.
That’s why I’ve been busying myself by getting involved with a men’s group on Saturday mornings (keeping me occupied during what used to be ‘our’ time); by making plans to travel and see parts of the world we didn’t get a chance to together (and hopefully, bringing Daniel along to see some of them as well); by putting in motion the project to redo the house, replacing the old oven and cabinets as well as the entire layout of those rooms; and looking for someone else to walk with throughout the remaining miles of the road ahead. Some of these things, I’m looking forward to – albeit with the poignant rememberance that you’ll not get to see any of it – while others, I wish I didn’t feel the need to actually do, but find myself in a place where I don’t feel I have a choice but to do these sorts of things.
It’s almost irrelevant as to whether or not it’s a good thing that I’m putting my past behind me (which, by extension, includes you); I can’t travel in any other direction than forward. All I can do is try and make sure it’s the best forward it can be.
But at least, I can turn around, and tell you about it, in as much detail as I feel comfortable with.
And it’s not as if I’m the own we want looking back at things. I don’t know quite how it came up – I think we were discussing the Marvel cinematic universe for some reason – at which point Lars brought up the subject of his favorite old comics from his childhood, including Tintin and the magazine bearing his name. I may have myself a whole other project on my hands, trying to find some material that’s been archived on the Internet for him. Nothing like finding a bit of one’s own childhood in the midst of the digital universe to bring you back to those old days; I’ll have to see what I can dig up on his behalf before we meet again.
Anyway, honey, wish me luck; I’m going to need it.
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