Off the record: uncover the present

It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon — the sky was a radiant blue, I had just finished most of my work for the week and I settled onto the couch to obsessively start binging another show. As I mentally prepared myself to enjoy the evening, I was met instead with a wave of existentialism. I had only a little over a month of high school left, I would never see most of these people again and my life was soon about to change, completely.

Overwhelmed with nostalgia, I bolted to my room and pulled out issues of ‘The Epitaph’ from 2018 and started leafing through them. It was innocent enough; I was merely curious.

Soon, however, it became obsessive. I started nitpicking the things I could have done better in my columns, articles, illustrations and page designs. In those moments, I cannot remember feeling anything but an urge to jump back in time and fix all my mistakes. Not only had I overused commas and featured a limited range of sources, but it was also evident I was scared to experiment with my writing style.

Time stops for no one and that is a scary thought to sit with. Letting it marinate and toss itself around in my mind did no good as I constantly ran on a treadmill of anticipating the next big thing, often forgetting to appreciate what I was experiencing in the current moment.

That’s the thing with time — it doesn’t allow you to change what has happened, and there never seems to be enough of it to fully prepare you for the future. So then, why would I spend time reliving the past while dreading the future? As I reflected on my experiences, I realized just how time I had spent fixating on the past or fearing the future. Throughout my life, I had constantly been trapped between these two worlds.Now, I hoped to uncover the reason why I

Holding on to the past and constantly looking to the future dissuades enjoyment of the present.
(Photo courtesy of Dreamtime)

struggled to break away from this destructive pattern.

The answer, itself, isn’t black and white; I cannot offer a simple explanation, for time is an abstract concept bounded by nothing but itself. I learn from the past, and I look forward to the future, but I got trapped in the intricacies of the past and the uncertainties of the future. I entertained the “what if’s” of the past and future, often dedicating hours on what could have been and what can be.

In doing so, I lost all sense of the present. I forgot to slow down to enjoy these fleeting moments, fueling the everlasting cycle of regret and anticipation.

Now, I take in the expanse of the world around me, permissing the past to rest and the future to come as it may. I pick up old copies of ‘The Epitaph’ and instead of viewing them as a compilation of my regrets, I appreciate the hints of creativity in my past work and view them as a look into the past to feel pride in how far I’ve come. I no longer feel I am missing out on life because I am living it in the present, as I abandon the ties that chained me to the past and the trains of thought that pull me into the future.

I no longer miss out on the way my friend’s eyes crinkle as she laughs, my brother’s excitement as he comes to tell me about his day or the pure contentment I feel writing in the present. I no longer let negative thoughts about the mistakes I’ve made in the past and the uncertainties of the future cloud my mind. Instead, I simply exist and write.