ruminations

No Going Back

Sometimes it hits. It’s rarely anticipated. That desire to feel that feeling you felt in the past. Maybe it was your first day of school, or your first kiss, or your first home run. Maybe it was that night when you did that thing, or that afternoon when you did that other thing. Maybe it was just that one time that you don’t remember very well but do remember fondly.

But you’ll never feel quite that way ever again.

One could, of course, question if you ever felt that way you remember yourself feeling. After all, memory is a flawed device that frequently deceives. It’s not only possible but likely that dinners at Grandma’s house were a little less magical than you remember them being. It’s hard to doubt that memories sometimes papers over the worst parts, colors in the bits that have faded with time, and generally makes events from your past look better than they really were.

But that’s a different matter. This is about how you’re no longer the same person you were ten years ago. If that’s true, you’re also not the same person you were five years ago. Or two years. Or a year. Or six months ago. Or three months ago. Or last month. Or last week. Or yesterday. Or 10 minutes ago. Or just a second ago.

This of course could lead us to ask, “Well, who are we anyway?” But again, that’ll have to be left to a different time.

The fact is, any feeling you had in the past was shaped by all the feeling you’d had until that moment. And the second you’ve had the feeling of first riding a roller coaster, you’ll never feel that way again. Your first experience of something colors the way you’ll experience that thing the rest of your life. So does that second experience of it. Every experience changes your relationship to those you’ve had and those you’ll have in the future. Some of these changes are probably for the better, some may not be.

The reason you’ll never get to relive that moment again is not that you’ll never be 12  or 21 ever again. It’s because you’ve already experienced that. And then you’ve experienced other things. And so you’ll never feel precisely that way ever again.

This can be a sad thought. It’s not exactly exuberating to think that you’ll never experience the joys of your childhood ever again. To think that you’ll never feel that way you did again.

But there’s no way to avoid it. You’ll never be that person again. You’ll never feel that way again. Time “marches on, whether we act as cowards or heroes.” We’ll never be the same again. There’s no going back.

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