Saturday, October 19, 2013

what's in a date?

all day, i’ve been contemplating the concept of time and the significance of its passage. and the irony of this post is not lost on me… a reflective post about reflection, how very meta of me. but truly, how strange a process it is!

today, more than other days, i’ve been preoccupied by the passage of time. it’s a topic that is never far from my mind; i’m an exceptionally nostalgic and sentimental person. i’ve always had a thing for dates, like birthdays, anniversaries, or just significant events. i know what day i donated my hair for the first time (april 25, 2002), i still know all of my would-be anniversaries with boyfriends-of-old (today being one), and i go out of my way to make countdowns and mark my calendars for future events. part of this obsession comes from an innate desire to see cycles completed. it’s not necessarily a compulsion, per se… but i really, really, really like to see things come full circle. for example, i began and ended my job at the public library in high school on august 7th, 2006 and 2009, respectively. moments like that make my soul feel like the universe is working properly. i might have a psychological problem.

as i sit in my little french village, one question in particular has been plaguing me on this sunny fall day; is it more important to look back on your past and honour where you’ve  been, or to leave it behind and just look to the future and what lies ahead? as someone who is simultaneously extremely nostalgic and notorious for playing the “what if” game... how do i reconcile this contradiction in my spirit?

i want to learn from my past, of course.  and, even on a bigger scale, i love history. i love knowing that hundreds and thousands of years have rolled by, and that people have lived and worked and loved and died through them all. that’s why i have always wanted to live in europe – the history here is palpable… hell, the town where i’m living was mentioned in writing in 572 ad. richard the lion-hearted slept at the chateau. i’m living in history – i’m reminded of that every day, and i love it.

but at the same time… i’m a planner. i like knowing how things will play out – or, if i can’t know, i like to at least think about it. part of my INFJ-ness is that i like to think about every single possible outcome of any given situation so i can know all my options. (thanks, mrs. v, for teaching me about myers-briggs. changed my world!) that trait translates into spending hours looking at various travel options, researching tons of different potential career paths, browsing every aisle of whatever shop i might enter… it can be both a very rewarding and very frustrating tendency.

so, how do i break my habit of obsessing over dates? do i even want to break it? more than anything else, this year abroad was a way for me to ask myself some big questions and start working through the answers. is it better to just cut all ties? do i want to be the kind of person who holds on to the nostalgia and the history as the years go by?

at the end of the day, what’s more important… october 19, 2010 or october 19, 2016? even on this smaller scale… just a few years backward or forward. deciding which way to look is hard, especially when i’m trying to be here and live in 2013.

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