Last Thursday night I finally was able to visit U of T’s planetarium and telescopes. Did you know they host FREE public tours of the telescopes, lectures on our place in the cosmos and planetarium shows the first Thursday of every month? GO SIGN UP NOW, seats fill up fast. I recommend bringing a friend or a date because the amount of couples in the room was WAY TOO HIGH–maybe because V-Day is creeping up on us. Unfortunately, last Thursday was the prelude to the biggest snow storm of the season and we could not use the telescopes and there were some technical difficulties and a fear of the power running out during the planetarium show. But there was this one moment that was the highlight of my night–maybe even a highlight of my time at U of T.
During these tours the hosts open up the balcony on the 14th floor to the public and trust me when I say…..the view is AMAZING. The balcony goes all the way around the floor. Words, letters, sounds cannot adequately show you what I mean. You have to see and experience the sight for yourself at night. I’m so sorry I couldn’t get my hands on a camera to take pictures for you! From the balcony, you can see everything from the CN Tower, China Town, U of T to maybe even yourself. There was this moment where I climbed a cement block to get a better view and in that moment I swear we were infinite. It was the eve of a snow storm and looking back the wind could’ve probably blown me right off the ledge–so I don’t recommend this.
Standing above the streets I’ve come to call home, I entered into a dialogue with my past self. I saw myself in the summer after high school getting a TCard from Robarts, eating lunch with a friend behind SS talking about how one day we’ll call this place home. I saw myself in first year holding a bunch of library books on Descartes and Hume wondering if I was smart enough to write my first philosophy paper. I saw myself in second year taking the 510 home to a faux-ivory tower every night feeling disconnected hoping to one day find others like me. I saw the nights I cried myself to sleep, when the loneliness was too consuming, the walks I took to escape those thoughts, the people I made homes out of and how empty I felt when they left, the mirrors I avoided looking into, all the food I didn’t eat out of guilt, the words I stuttered, the places I got the phone-call to make a trip to see my dad for what could’ve been the last time…I felt it all.
But I also saw the lightness of my steps after each exam, the rhythm of my heartbeat after writing pol200/pol330/pol381 papers, that one time at philosopher’s walk, the park bench lunches in front of UC, buying a copy of the Phenomenology of Spirit at Bob Miller with a fellow Hegelian, driving home with Shaquelle down Spadina after seeing Justin Nozuka perform at our Open Mic, all the walks down St.George,the first time I saw my beauty in the reflection of the window of the Timmies on Bloor St W, reading Hegel on Sid Smith’s Patio in the summer, the warmth I felt hiding out in Trinity’s Chapel….I felt all that too. I watched as my story unfolded in 43.6481° N, 79.4042° W.
And here I was standing on top of it all. I could see pieces of my heart scattered all over the city sewn together by smiles, by lived experience, by time. I stood on top of that block of cement gazing at the manifestation of myself in this space through the unfolding of time. Here I was in a position to master the past and decide what parts of it I wanted to use to animate the present.
For a few seconds, I felt as if all the walls around me disappeared and I was standing there naked for the world to see. All my fears, gone. It was a moment of raw honesty. I told my past self she was worthy of love and recognition. I told her she was brilliant and that one day she will be mind-blowing. I held her close to me for a little while and then I let her go. I felt the warmest energy surround my heart but it left it sensitive–like when you brush a wound in the process of healing.
My friend in psychology tells me that I need to stop ruminating over my entire life because my “whole life” has only been like a decade of conscious memories from my formative years. So technically I’ve been orienting my present self through the lens of my past self (her insecurities, her resentments, her fears) which is true. And on that balcony, I felt the hands of the past release me. It was a call to honesty–to be honest with myself, my roots and my loved ones. The friend I went with also made me aware of the dangers of my escapism, my tendency to avoid being honest with myself and lack of focus on DOING in my life.
I learned that night that I’m not living an honest life. I strongly believe X and want to live X but my behaviour and actions are puppeteered by my past self. And that I can get so lost in thinking that I forget about the doing part–which is dangerous because the will can change the world only insofar as it is actualized and expressed. So I really am pregnant in the Nietzschean sense; I have all of these insights into myself and how I want to change but I have yet to actualize and put to use the fruits of introspection. Hegel would rollover in his grave right now if he were to learn of this. I’ve really let myself go this semester and spent most of it tuned out. But with this freedom from the past, I’m ready to start anew.
I need to learn to love my roots and not think of running away from everything so much as if it’s going to fix everything. Mumford and Sons put it best with:
There’s a chip on your shoulder, girl/ And by God it’ll make you fall/ If you let it take a part of your soul/…/ Cause your roots will rot away/And your fruit, it wont grow/ Your bark will wear thin, body hollow.
I am no longer haunted by the ghosts of the past. I’m ready to begin again. I am ready to be honest. I am ready to show more of myself, the real me, in the space of appearances. I’m ready to give up the facades. I’m ready to fear less and to love more. And I’m ready to turn my thinking into DOING. I don’t feel like I’m stuck repeating the past anymore trying to find flesh to fill up the skeleton of my life in a meaningful way. I don’t feel the need to find new bones to inhabit anymore either. The emptiness is lessening.
A friend of mine said to me a few days ago
“Don’t try to grow into your own shoes; they already fit”
And he’s right. Think about it.
1 comment on “A Present Puppeteered by the Past”
I really love your writing style and the message you’re putting forth. This was really inspiring and I hope your journey from here on out is never anything less than wonderful. Keep writing – you speak with a humbled honesty that’s really refreshing to read.