Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obligations, Promises, and Intentions

The past is a place you visit to see how much--if anything--you've learned since then. You use it to ratify or validate things you once or presently consider certainty, to confirm suspicions, and build precedent from which to make future decisions.

You never quite know how to dress or what to pack for your visits, much less do you know how long you will remain. Real-time travel issues of your own or of friends warn you of potential hazards and delays, going and return, reminding you in yet other ways of the inherent mischief possible.

Could you have done something better? Could you have listened to someone longer? Could you have better picked up on hints that your presence was wanted or not wanted? Was there something you could have done and did not? Was there something you did and should not have?

Hazardous thinking, all of them. And yet, you are aware of the temptation.

More so in recent years, you have put effort into writing down due dates, times for meetings, even dates on which obligations are to be discharged, all of which seem to be the major causes for visiting the past in the first place. Perhaps the strategy was merely to help you keep better track of obligations, promises, and intentions. Perhaps it was even more--an attempt to keep you away from verb tenses associated with should have and could have, honing your focus on the road ahead and how to be prepared for it.

One of the great pleasures of reading and writing story is the awareness that such deftness and complexity gain shape from the lathe of revision and the knowledge that real-time life offers no such opportunity.

1 comment:

Marta said...

Ah. Time travel. Always tricky business. I should probably stop.