Why do we look back when the natural way of things is to move forward? Because it’s easy? Because it’s nicer? Life never seems quite as wonderful when it is being lived. But in comparison with what we’re feeling and facing and surviving at this moment, the heydays seem like glorious times.
I know why this is so. An experience being lived is an onslaught of sights and sounds and feelings and thoughts and information hitting us faster than we can handle. Later, we examine our scars, our lint, our debris and flotsam. Sometimes, we add to it from what someone else said or something we read or learnt elsewhere. And we construct a story. We build a painting. The present has a way of being simultaneously overpowering and mundane at the same time. So in our stories to ourselves, we colour hard and deep.
The colour spectrum of life goes in the opposite direction from a ray of light going through a prism. The future is an unknown cavern of blankness. The present is a hard prism that’s simultaneously confusing and colourless. But the past, the past is every colour we choose to lay on it. We are light beams travelling backwards in time, just as we are conscious experience moving forward.
Small wonder then, so many of us spend our lives rapidly turning forwards and backwards, always worried we’re going to run into some disaster but unable to keep our eyes away from the alluring past for too long. The blankness ahead is inviting and scary and what we’ve left behind reminds us of the colour we turn it into. The past is technicolour and we are the prisms that make it so.
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