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Posts Tagged ‘sonnets’

The self-growth community, which likes to clutter my inbox with fantastic offers for $10,000 worth of free life changing bonuses if only I will divulge my e-mail, vociferously insists we must all LET GO of the Past. I sometimes wonder if the induction ceremony for an authentic, card carrying self-growth guru is to have his or her memory wiped like a malfunctioning hard drive.

Personally, I would miss my Past. Not all of it, you understand. But even the terrible, terrorizing moments taught me things that, having sweated blood and endured raw fear to learn, I would not want to forget. And aren’t we doomed to repeat the Past until we finally learn what It is trying to teach us?

The thing is, what would artists make their art out of if they didn’t have their Pasts? Sylvia Plath, without her miserable, doomed love-affair with Ted Hughes, would never have become a Great Poet. Ditto for W.B. Yeats who made a highly successful poetic career out of mourning his loss of the ever elusive Maude Gonne. And then there is the mysterious woman of Shakespeare’s sonnets. No lost love, no great sonnets. Thank goodness for the rest of us Plath, Yeats, and Shakespeare lived before the onslaught of self-growth emails insisting you can’t be Anybody until you LET Go of the Past.

And in my case, wiping my personal hard drive would be a rather long affair, since I have memories back to a very, very early age. Now, I am not one of those people who can cite chapter and verse every day of every week of my life. (I think that much recall would be boring.) But let’s just say I have some vivid and accurate recollections of certain major events before age three. And I’d miss them like I’d miss an arm or a leg if they vanished.

On the other hand, Too Much Past is the equivalent of those hoarding reality TV shows that I never watch. You know the ones, where some poor soul stills owns every McDonald’s wrapper and styrofoam Big Mac container that ever came into his or her life? The literary equivalent is poor Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

I began to meditate upon the proper balance for The Past in my life this weekend when I finally rebelled against another Saturday and Sunday spent writing unbrief briefs and invited the sky to fall if it wanted to because I was LEAVING MY COMPUTER for the weekend. Something about rebelling against the lawyer’s code which says “real men work weekends” (note, I know I’m not a man and maybe I’m not real), always brings out the Tidy Up, Throw It Out impulse in me.

After tackling my guest room, which needed considerable tidying and spiffing, my eyes lit upon my garage floor, covered in boxes of files in pending, but not currently active cases, which were supposed to go to offsite storage weeks ago. My MiniCooper had been complaining that His garage was too full of things besides Himself. And he was right. So after bribing my Stronger-Than-Me son to move the boxes, I suddenly spied a shelf filled with old calenders dating back ten years.

When I retired from law practice and became full-time Mommy in 1986, I used to order those calenders from the Smithsonian and National Geographic that came as little coil bound books, week on one side, breathtaking photo on the other. I scribbled things like pediatrician appointments, play dates, and my few-and-far-between babysitter relief afternoons in them. But mostly I loved the ever changing artwork.

But then, the divorce settled like ash from Vesuvius over our world. My beautiful little calendars became part of my family law attorney’s files – alibis to prove what I’d been up to for the last eight years. And I had to once again put on the great grey mantle of law practice. In place of my lithe little photographic calendars, I had to order those big clunky green-striped DayTimers, six inches thick, which arrived each year with their own grey coffin of a box to store them in. Forever, apparently.

Then on Saturday afternoon I looked at those boxes as they sat on my garage shelf, neatly labeled like Old Father Time with the year of his reign on the spine, and I asked myself when was the last time I’d opened any of them. Answer: on December 31 of the year they had passed into oblivion. In fact, all the briefs’ due dates they had chronicled were long past. The cases were closed out, and I could barely remember the clients’ names. Here was my chance, I realized, to throw out a cumbersome Past that really was THE PAST. Here was a hard drive that had long needed wiping. Joyfully I seized each and every one and gleefully threw them away.

Green-Lined Day Timer

Green-Lined Day Timer

They come with their own coffins

They come with their own coffins

Smthsonian Engagement Calendar

Smthsonian Engagement Calendar

Smithsonian Calendar

Smithsonian Calendar

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