Past, Present, Future – Defining One’s Self…

I’m a huge sucker for TV shows with awesome character development.  When I watch those shows, I’m not there for the plot development – rather I am there to fall in love with each of the characters.  I’m there to watch them grow through real-world struggles against the backdrop of their fantasy worlds.  Game of Thrones has me completely drawn in – both on the TV side and in the books.  Babylon 5 was another show, where I watched and empathized with the characters through their story-lines – even the bad-guys.  But the show I will set everything down to watch every single is the Highlander series with Adrian Paul playing the role of Duncan MacLeod.

Immortals, struggling against one another in a singular struggle to be the last one standing, living their lives against the backdrop of humankind’s struggles to create modern civilization…this was the stuff of legends for me.  Recently, I watched an episode titled “Through a Glass Darkly” which details a storyline into 1700s Scotland.  However, in the beginning of the episode, Duncan is helping fellow immortal Methos get beyond the death of a mortal woman he (Methos) had fallen in love with.  Duncan attempts to comfort Methos with the statement:  “The Navajo have a saying that the spirit lives on as long as there is someone living who remembers you.”  At the end of the episode, Duncan is lamenting the fact that his friend Warren (the immortal who Duncan flashes back to 1700s Scotland on) may have been better off not remembering the Past as it was (the Warren character was dealing with a mental block similar to amnesia in order to not remember the pains of that time).  Methos comments that its perfectly human to mis-remember the Past – to recreate it in our minds as we wish it to be.  As an example, he points out Russia, and then quickly adds “..and the United States and Britain as well.”  Duncan asks Methos if there was anything in his own Past (and Methos has an EXTREMELY checkered past) that he would like to change.  Methos response was “No.  If I changed the Past, there would be no one to remember Amanda” (the mortal Woman he was lamenting in the beginning of the show).

Methos also made a remark that “we all have things in our Past that we regret.”  An ironic statement for immortals, since they live so long through mortal history.  But that got me to thinking about my own personal past…and its a true statement, at least for me.  I have lamentable moments in my past (say it ain’t so!).  But there are also some awesome moments in my past; as there are many moments of mediocrity.  There are moments of sadness, moments of great joy, and many moments in-between.  Our lives are scattered with these moments.  The longer we live, the more we experience, the more moments we leave in the wake of our lives.

We can always take a moment to stop, turn around, and view the Path we’ve walked.  Another of my favorite characters, Dr. Stephen Franklin notes in the episode Shadow Dancing:

Franklin:  I realize that I always defined myself in terms of what I wasn’t. I wasn’t a good soldier like my father. I wasn’t the job. I wasn’t a good prospect for marriage or kids. Always what I wasn’t, never what I was. And when you do that, you miss the moments. And the moments are all we’ve got. When I thought I was going to die, even after everything that’s happened, I realized I didn’t want to let go. I was willing to do it all over again, and this time I could appreciate the moments. I can’t go back, but I can appreciate what I have right now. And I can define myself by what I am instead of what I’m not.

Sheridan:  And what are you?

Franklin:  Alive.  Everything else is negotiable.

I read a lot of History books.  A lot.  And in reading the History, I tend to get really wrapped up in what has already taken place.  I typically find myself angry about the injustices that the American government did in terms of honoring treaties with the First Nations peoples.  And slowly, I’ll begin to realize that the purpose of learning the History isn’t to get angry about what has already happened.  The true purpose is to inform myself of how we – as human beings – have arrived here at this moment in time.  As the fictitious Dr. Stephen Franklin points out, History teaches us the moments that happened, so that we can appreciate the manner in which we’ve arrived at this moment.  Going forward, History is not written – its yet to be lived, and we can only take it a moment at a time.  But if we look back, realize the manner in which we’ve arrived, perhaps we can change our approach slightly and move forward in time in a more judicious, appreciative, and understanding manner.

As I stated, I’ve made very lamentable mistakes in my Life.  I can’t take back those moments.  I can’t relive them over and over either.  I can look back, understand why I chose to undertake the actions or inaction that I did – and change my behavior (hopefully) going forward.  I don’t want to forget my Past.  I just don’t to repeat those lamentable moments, if I can.  There’s no sense in beating myself up, or defining my future actions by all that has gone before.  I can choose to be the person I want to be.  But what’s already happened is part of the base that I will work from – even if some of those past moments are not my best…

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