“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” -Anaïs Nin
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” -Buddha
I’ve written a lot in the past about the past. I’ve written vividly about my failed attempt at breastfeeding, getting tendonitis at my first fast food job, reconciling with my mother–and each time it’s a flurry of words, then a cathartic revision, then a (nearly) indifferent editing process, followed by a nostalgic final draft.
I haven’t always had this relationship with writing.
When I was eight, I wrote a saga that my mom typed for me and dreamed of being an author. When I was eleven, I wrote fan fiction that I read aloud to my voracious friends. When I was fourteen, I wrote a paragraph about an abandoned, “dreamcatcher” house and won the 9th grade writing competition I was unaware I’d been entered in.
It was all very recreational before–before everything got so chaotic and it became the only tool to process my own thoughts and feelings, the only vent that didn’t eventually backfire, the only way to use a magnifier on my childhood.
Now, whenever I read something from that era, it all comes ebbing in until I can feel the rocking chair’s bars on my back, hear the whir of the pump, smell the cajun rice. But even more vivid is the sense that I’m communicating with a past self, a version of me that is lost, searching for the answers that I now have. It’s the opportunity to appreciate that time while simultaneously relishing in its expiration, knowing the outcome as I do. Inevitably, though, a wave of regret follows because I didn’t relish it then, didn’t hold the moment closer then. I was so busy trying to get through it, that I didn’t take the time to be in it.