When the world moves on

cn: the past, change

Recently I have been thinking a lot about change and letting go and moving on, and how one goes about knowing exactly when and how to do it. I find it all so difficult – I think (hope) we all do, that when it feels like we’re clawing to catch up with the rest of the world when it’s running away from us, everyone is just running in the hope that no one else will notice how we all feel a little bit lost.

Sometimes I happen to be at the station when the train I used to get home from school comes in, and I’m battling my way upstream of a hundred schoolkids who know that the whole world belongs to them. And now I’m just one of those grumpy grown-ups who tries to act unbothered but inevitably gets thumped by backpack after backpack, and they have no idea that I used to be one of their invincible mass!

For a moment, it is one of many inconsequential signs from the universe that things have changed.

The world moves on and the places that are so easy to reach in our memories are not always so accommodating in real life.

If I walk round the corner from that station, I pass the house I used to live in, and see different cars in the drive and different curtains in the windows. I think about how much fun me and my cousins had in that garden in the summer of being 8 years old, and am always mildly outraged at how something which is so personal – my home, my garden that was my whole entire world and any other world I could dream up – is now still exactly that, but for some other kid. It almost feels like I could walk up to the door and demand to be let inside, but of course I have no claim to that home any more. My memory will tie me there forever and that is valid and valuable, I think, but to the people who call it home now I’m just another passer-by on their street.

I know I love to find meaning in everything and extrapolate to the ends of the earth, but things like this make me think about how the world moves on and the places that are so easy to reach in our memories are not always so accommodating in real life, and that realisation is disconcerting and a little bit sad.

I hate the idea that the world we knew not so long ago has moved slightly beyond our reach, that we are powerless to pull it back.

I hate the idea that the world we knew not so long ago has moved slightly beyond our reach, that we are powerless to pull it back. I’m so possessive over my own time and resistant to it passing to the point of stubbornness, so I hold onto the past and keep it at my fingertips as some kind of compensation, a hollow act of defiance against the effluxion of time.

I can recall certain memories so vividly, and I spend so much time slipping myself back into them. It is an indulgence – I take my time pulling up the scene, placing my body in it and reciting the words that were said or conjuring up the physical sensations so strongly that I swear I can actually feel the sun on my back or his hand in mine. I can call up the emotions too, and I submerge myself in them, soaking in the one-time moment.

It feels good, but I don’t know if it is a good thing – each time I relive a memory like this, it still feels like something has slipped through my fingers and I have to go through it again to experience it fully. I wonder if I do it because I worry I didn’t live the moment thoroughly enough when I was actually in it, so I have to try again. I wonder if I stopped placing myself in past memories whether I’d have more energy to focus on being present where I am right now, and feel less need to come back to it later. I wonder if there’s no such thing as being fully present, and if it’s yet another myth to make us feel that our personal experience of the human condition is inadequate. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder, as the moments march on.

And so – what better way to live in the moment than to spend less time doing and more time obsessively reflecting? This is the first of three essays I’ve written about moving on and letting go. I’ve started here by thinking about the sensation of realising a moment has become the past, the next post is about growing apart from people and the last will be about trying to find peace with moving on from past pain.

How do you feel about the world’s insistence on relentlessly spinning away? Does it overwhelm you, or are you raring for change? What does the past look like and feel like in your head? Does literally anything I’ve said make sense? I’d love to know – leave a comment or send me a message, and thank you always for reading!

4 thoughts on “When the world moves on

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