I was obsessed with themes in my earlier life, well I guess I am still. The principal feature of some was the brevity of their influence. Weeks, or months. But others provide enduring backgrounds to life. I can slip into different mindsets because they are mine, having experienced them.
I’ve noticed some people lock away their experiences. A friend who made it big in finance prefers not to be reminded of an old lifestyle in the 1970s. Another was a budding artist, but she likes to conceal the past in her current career as a corporate climber. One, staunchly Conservative, prefers not to associate with me at all; afraid that I’ll out him for his left-wing past? So it goes.
The trouble may be that it’s not all sweetness and light in our pasts. We have dark nooks and crannies, and embracing the past can be a challenge. Years ago, when I was deep into my life as an upcoming practicing anthropologist, an old friend showed up on my doorstep. He and his girlfriend were directly out of my Folkie past – complete to the gigantic straw “Mad Hatter” top hat he was wearing. For several hours while they visited, I had a sort of existential double vision. My wife discovered who Wes was (me in my on the road days); my two-year-old son found enchantment with the huge top hat, and I began a long process of reintegrating my old persona.
Here’s some advice. Embrace it, make yourself complete by rolling the old you’s into one. And if you haven’t had the time yet to mess up, you have a lot to look toward. As Wes the Folkie would put it:
Stealin’, stealin’, pretty momma don’t you tell on me
I’m stealin’ back to my same old used to be.”