the hauting echoes of past lives

one of my favourite aussie artists. the pipes are there too, as to not break the cycle

i change a lot. maybe this post will be more personal than usual, but i just had an interesting realization. over the years i’ve been certain of hundreds or even thousands of things, only to predictably contradict myself a little while later

the easy way out is to claim that self contradiction implies richness of character, but i see that as the usual argument employed by crooks and liars to get away with anything. instead, a great deal of my time is spent trying to improve my understanding of the world around me, to the point of exhaustion. instead of conservatively reaching conclusions that survive the test of time, i constantly jump on the best ideological bandwagon for that moment. going back through the years, i have a succession of comical caricatures of myself, deluded by whichever absolute truth was around then. this succession means i’ve had many lives, if one can call it that: if at a given time i had full purpose, meaning and goals, my life would be entirely shaped around it. for example, while becoming a robotics researcher was the story, so was my entire mind. at the same time, these ideas would co-exist with other ideas and other lives, be it music, arts, or even, for the past years, relationships and communities

one of the side effects of this is that at any given point in time, my blind certainties, passions and drives give any observer the illusion of consistency: that that certainty is set on solid foundations. that has been, i imagine, the key to every situation where my charismatic leadership capacity stood out. it wasn’t that my ideas were necessarily right, but the fervor with which i followed them made it all the more believable. an excellent example of this was one of my past lives as a community organizer, that is to say, someone that rented out a place and would let strangers in, or co-squatted alongside an eclectic team. during that time, and over time, i would provide the passers-by with my “truth of the moment”, my apparent solid theory of everything

fast-forward about 3 or 4 years, and the echoes are coming back, like ghosts of a former self, in the form of these strangers, revisiting me, or contacting me again. but for every echo, i’m faced with a contradiction of myself: as the revisiting stranger mentions ideas i raved about, they no longer feel mine, they feel distant and alien, as if someone else had said them

what allows for this is the fact that i continuously hosted people over more than 4 years, and at every point of the way, i made deep connections with people. but now, whenever an echo hits me, like an aftershock, i’m forced to acknowledge that i’ve changed, wussed out or even flat out lied. that now i live in a rich country, working 9 to 5 and do virtually nothing of what i promised any of these former selves and to those that were listening. i’m forced to acknowledge that i’ve co-opted the dominant anglo-saxon culture for my own benefit, that i rent, pay insurance, save for my retirement, that i’ve treaded the path i loathed. hell, what happened to all these dreams i dazzled people with by the bonfire? they burned out with it, only to come back every now and then through other people’s mouths

as my last encounter went on about how much my ideas were inspirational, i felt a mix of selfish happiness from the feeling that i could change someone’s life, and an incredible feeling of helplessness. i felt i wasn’t on the driver’s seat at all, that i wasn’t in control of my own life. that somehow no matter how strong these ideas were in my past, what determined my future was entirely beyond my control. that somehow, no matter how much thought i had given to how i should live my life according to my ideals, these external forces controlled my every move, while i told myself and others proudly that they didn’t. i realized that preaching is too easy, especially if sugar-coated with some apparent action. i was confronted, yet again, with the blatant hypocrisy of voicing an opinion and not living according to it

i’m yet to turn all these emotions into a proper line of thought, but if anything, i’m coming to terms with the fact that to learn and to grow is to deny the self of any sustainable constancy, other that the process of growth and learning itself. luckily, these echoes do not come with judgement, but with love and friendship, which can be reciprocated beyond the realm of facts and figures. this begs the question: does that mean, then, that consistency is irrelevant, and that the realms of love and friendship exist beyond them, in an inscrutable universe of emotions that reason contributes nothing to?