Monday, August 13, 2012

The Back Side of Now

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475 b.c)—remember him?—may have been the first to observe that change is the only constant, but he wasn't and won't be the last. We can like it or not, agree with it or not, but that doesn't...uh...change...the truth of the statement.

I've never been big on change. Though I know change can be positive, and can readily accept it when it is—especially if it is beneficial to me—I've found that far too much change is negative, and have therefore been generally fighting it since I was a child. I'm serious when I say that when I was five, I was perfectly happy being five, and never had any real desire to be six. I was in no hurry to grow up. I still am not. And as long as I can avoid catching a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface, I can hold to that conceit. Recently, however, I find I don't need a reflective surface to verify that negative change not only exists, but that it is accelerating at a frightening rate. Every time I am offered a seat on the bus or subway, every time someone—however well intentioned—tries to do something for me that I am perfectly capable of doing myself, that change is driven home.

While resisting change is the ultimate exercise in futility, that doesn't stand in the way of my resisting it. And luckily, I realized long ago that change only applies to the future, not to the past, which is immutable. Therefore, I have diligently been trying to capture, by whatever method, as many thoughts and details of my life as I can, knowing that once captured, they become the past and are forever safe from change. I have absolutely no idea what I may become in the future—other than the fact that I doubt I'll like it—but I take comfort in the fact that everything on “the back side of now” cannot be changed.

That I have never and am unlikely to ever achieve all I'd hoped to achieve is softened by the however-unrealistic hope that doesn't matter when...all that I have managed to preserve of myself will survive and might be of some interest or benefit to someone in the future. I tell myself that even those who may think of themselves as a failure in life may find a form of immortality after their physical death. Of the nearly 900 paintings Vincent Van Gogh did during his lifetime, he sold only he was alive. He thought himself a failure, and only time proved he was not. Emily Dickinson saw only eight of her 1,175 poems published during her lifetime, and I'm sure there are many more similar examples. While I do not have anywhere near the talent of these people I do hope to leave as complete as possible an inner portrait of one human being.

These blogs, obviously, are part of that picture.

My self-portrait project, egocentric as it may be, also has a broader aspect, in which you play a part. I am endlessly fascinated with the mysteries of all of human existence, but since my own existence is the only one of which I can speak with any degree of confidence, I often use these blogs to address matters which others, for whatever reason—a reluctance to reveal themselves fully to others, perhaps or simply on the basis that they're nobody's business—generally kept hidden and almost never openly discuss. I would never dream of speaking for you, since I am not privy to what lies within your heart, mind, and soul and therefore have no real idea of how similar or dissimilar we may be. I really would like to think that the closer issues are to the heart, the more similar all human beings become.

I am not a philosopher; thinking too long or too intently tends to confuse and frustrate me. But I do enjoy dabbling with thoughts and ideas somewhat outside the normal range of general communication and exchange. And there is always the hope that you may read something I've written and say/think, “Hey, I can identify with that.”

And with the end of this blog, another small spot of time slips from an ever-changing future to the unchangeable past. Kind of comforting how that works.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

Do you ever wonder how much time we spend in life doing laundry? It's time we'll never get back and, really, we should simply have asked our staff to do it for us. But because we've always done it (nobody can do it correctly unless we do it ourselves), we most likely have lost a year of our life. Imagine the novel we could have written in the time it took us to do all that laundry...

Sorry. Did I just go off on a tangent?