We all could use a little reminder about self-improvement. So, we will take a journey into TheTwilight Zone (1958-1964) … “dodi – do doo – dodi – do doo – dodi – do doo!” The past is a funny thing. It is something we question relentlessly, expound upon overwhelmingly and mellow over for years only to wake up one morning realizing we regretfully spent our whole life wishing, worrying and wondering about something that does not exist. Now, there are thousands of expounding quotes on this topic, hundreds which speak of a specific methodology and numerous that either support or diminish the use of reflectivity and I could use any of them, but one quote stands out among the rest. Kakuzo Okakura says,
“…we should [not] disregard the creation of the past, but … should [instead] ignore the claims of posterity and seek to enjoy the present and assimilate the past in our consciousness.”
– The Book of Tea
Meaning, we should purposefully live for the present, take the learned lessons from our past and apply them to produce a fulfilling future.
Now trying to figure out how to make the past which was once a physical manifestation into a lesson of experience is a difficult task at hand, but it can be done. One way of learning how to move on from your past is by watching Rod Serling’s surrealistic television series, The Twilight Zone. I have been a fan of series for years, but due to my recent introspective phase of life, one episode tugged at my heart. This 20 minute, black and white, full screened episode is titled, Walking Distance. It’s a story about a businessman named Martin who on literally walks down memory lane. He visits his hometown, sees his parents, has some ice-cream and causes a disturbing encounter with himself as a boy resulting in a broken arm and uproar in the town. It’s simply wonderful!
This fifth episode within the first season of Mr. Serling’s series is a terrific visual demonstration of what I am talking about. Walking Distance presents the thematic of forever finding yourself to be a stranger within your past because the truth of the matter is you no longer belong there. The past is gone and you live in the present. It’s a tragic reality, but the thought of going back and experiencing it is romantic yet potentially dangerous. Walking Distance uses the implications of imagination to share the truths of why the past is a harmful place. Much like a good glass of scotch, it is fine to reminisce over your memories, but too much of this act causes a deconstruction of your potential of growth. When you begin longing to relive the glory days, you start to question your current identity and slowly lack the understanding of why you belong where you are now.
I will never again set foot on the wooden deck I helped my father build. I will never hear my best friend knocking on the bedroom window to sneak out for the night. I will never have the same dinner parties at my girlfriend’s house and even if I went back to my hometown which like Martin did I’ve done, I will not be able to call it home because that place is not home anymore. It is now just a house like all the others in the world. I have lived out of a suitcase for two years and traveled around. Along my travels, I found myself in my hometown and driving by my old house. I stood on the sidewalk for a moment, looked at the building and remembered feeling sick. I couldn’t walk through the red front door anymore because it no longer belonged to me and after this flooding of memories drained through me, I was left feeling bliss. I, at that point in my life understood the saying, “you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.”
What I discovered in that moment was I did not miss the garage I built my mustang in or the tire swing in the backyard or the girl next door. I simply missed the memories and then in that moment I got them all back. It’s always difficult to accept the possibility of losing the ones we care about after we rent a truck and load our lives in boxes, but it is going to be okay. The memories will always follow because the right people will call you to keep you from falling asleep at the wheel. Serling’s episode of a man discovering he can never share the past with his younger self is not a disheartened tale of woe. It is story of acceptance, growth and yearning for a better way of current life to be lived because all your past nothing but is a stepping stone for tomorrow.