past and present

From the Window
anonymous photo from Square America.

“We all die, and what we have been in the past means nothing to that moment (it actually means nothing to any moment). For each of us to go through that moment without pretension or regret, free of the past, is the optimum way to die—and to live! Like toothpaste through a tube, death squeezes the past out of us as we are dying. The dying often try to square themselves with their lives through life review. They will talk endlessly about the areas of their lives which still hook them and ensnare them in the past.” — Rodney Smith, author of Lessons From the Dying.

As someone who studies literary history, I pay attention to the past. As a Buddhist and a poet, I live with the contradiction of my fascination and preoccupation with history, and my understanding that it’s all water flowing under the bridge and over the falls. I am curious, but I hold the past (and identity, ethnic or otherwise) lightly — even when I take it seriously!