living in incomprehensible times and finding, in the personal past, perspective

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maybe it's the time of year, but I'm feeling nostalgic.

For a time when I believed (at least) that there was more justice in the world. For a legal system that did not turn away from videographic evidence to render an incomprehensible decision. For an era of greater self-restraint—less lambasting, say, of the unprotected innocents; less strutting with keystrokes.

For a time when we all paused another beat or two before we pressed Send.

We live on a crippled planet, and we've placed each other on edge.

Yesterday, following a zany corporate work week, I took a walk in the bright chill air. Didn't know where I was going really, just had to get out, away, unto myself. I ended up in a shop a mile or so down the road and there encountered a former classmate from Radnor High. I see her, from time to time—at the gym, out in the world. She is a first-rate beauty, that miraculous kind who doesn't seem to know it, or, if she does, to care. We talked about the things that matter most—our families, our children. About loving our parents. About the ways our children are carving out their lives. About the digital age and Google Adwords and small apartments and courage.

It was real, personal, connected, meaningful—this chance conversation—and as I walked away I thought again of all those people from my past who keep returning. Who show up at NCTE and tell me the story of a life. Who gather at Chanticleer for an almost evening. Who slosh through a rain storm for a reading. Who stay in touch in gentle ways.

I thought, I think, of how I didn't know what I had, who I wanted to be, or what I was building toward, all those years ago, and yet, somehow, the past finds me. The past, which seems necessarily gentle to me now and more whole. The past, which yields perspective. The past, which pauses and which is, somehow, more comprehensible than so much of what is happening in the present.


Serena said...

What a wonderful surprise. Sounds like a great conversation.

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