As I’ve grown older, one of the best things I’ve learnt is that it’s better never to dwell. I’ve made far too many bad decisions in my life to spend the rest of it looking back on them. I’ve also made some fairly decent decisions, occasionally, and these seem to have worked out well enough for me to be gainfully employed, and in possession of a loving family (I’m willing to talk ransom to the person I stole them from).
In the last few years, with the increasing digitisation of, well, everything that I like, I’ve also become less and less of a possessions person. I ditched all but a few of my CD’s, DVD’s and books, because who can be arsed to open a plastic case anymore? I can get all of the content I need from the shiny glass covered thing that lives in my left hand. This makes life a lot easier to navigate, and the only thing that really drives me to spend money on ‘stuff’ is the fact that black t-shirts fade and shrink over time.
I have tried, over the years, not to question my decisions, because each of them have led me to the path that has me currently hunched over this keyboard, writing this bilge for you to read. When I was speaking at my wedding last year, I said then that I could happily never question any path that I had taken in life, because stood there with my beautiful wife, my wonderful children, and all of my friends, how could I? I meant it, too. Life is not for looking back on.
There’s another thing, however. I have a terrible memory. There are whole years of my life that I could probably remember some small part of, but whole friendships, jobs, houses and even girlfriends that I have only the dimmest recollection of. I was rereading old blog posts a few months back, and was alarmed by how little of the days I actually remembered. This is, obviously, quite worrying, but perhaps not all that surprising given how much of my twenties I spent enjoying myself.
So, when my wife asked me to dig out her photos to show a visiting friend, I did the usual thing of rolling my eyes, and moaning about having to get the steps out to reach the box. I love my wife, however, so after grumbling to an agreeable amount, I went and did as I was told. As I retrieved the box, however, I saw another one. A box that the dim candlelight of memory flickered upon as being my own. I pulled it down too, and found within a treasure trove of hidden and forgotten memories.
There were diaries, from my college years. These are every bit as embarrassing to read as they should be. Photographs, from the time when you had a camera, but never when it was useful to have one. Like this. I was so pleased with this stereo that I took a photograph of it, and then had that developed. Then I kept it, and moved it from house to house.
Old writing. I have old copies of the Asian newspaper I once wrote all the content for (long story). The old music magazine that I launched and sold less than a hundred copies of, leading me to go work in a terrible call centre, when I then met my wife.
Clippings from my university newspaper. These were lovingly clipped and labelled, in the hope that they would one day secure my place on the staff of The Guardian, or Kerrang!, or wherever else I dreamed I’d end up.
Videos of my old band that I can no longer watch. Old floppy disks, the wonders of which will never be revealed. What do they contain? Old Buffy Fanfic? The greatest novel ever written? Meaningless drivel? Who knows, but I’ll spend a good week going through the box, trying to piece it all together.
So, maybe sometimes it’s not so bad to look back?