I Live in the World Now While the Past That Cannot be Erased Is on the Shelf
The five senses tell the story of each individual's life.
When April arrives and the world that catches my eye turns pale pink, I am reminded of the entrance ceremony at my elementary school. I feel the beginning of something, and my heart gets excited.
When I listen to the music that I used to listen to when I was a student taking an entrance exam, the pain I felt back then suddenly comes back. Then, I think back, "I did my best at that moment.”
When I leave the house saying," I'm going,” I can smell the faint, sweet, and refreshing scent of an orange osmanthus. Reflecting on the events of last fall, I smile saying, "Oh, yeah."
When I return home after a long absence and eat my mother's homemade dish, I suddenly feel as if I am a child again. It warms my heart.
WhenＩtouch of your lips, it reminds me of the moment when we first kissed. My heart skipped a beat.
Thus, the five senses transcend time and space, allowing us to go back and forth between past and present.
The featureless everyday object opens one of the many memory drawers in your mind and connects the present world with the past.
That’s probably how people look back at the good and bad memories in their lives.
However, what happens if the drawer is left open and cannot be closed?
When people experience trauma (a strong shock from emotional damage), they may leave drawers open, unable to organize their memories. In addition to being unable to store the contents of memories well, the five senses associated with memory do not function properly; "past" and "present" become mixed up, so it becomes difficult to understand when and what happened.
Some people say, "If you go to bed, you will forget all the bad things." But can we really forget them?
Even if one memory is thrown out of consciousness, it may still be floating around in the realm of unconsciousness. To be able to handle and survive when something similar happens again, people may keep bad memories in the back of their unconscious shelves as a reminder.
So what we consciously forget also reveals itself from the shelves of the unconscious when we encounter something triggering that is related to the memory. Because they have been keeping unconsciousness for so long, people cannot recognize memories and become confused and easily drowned in their memories.
"I don't feel like I'm living in the reality."
"I should be in the present, but I feel shut away in the past and in constant pain."
When I was suffering from trauma, I was rather saddened by being comforted by people saying that "It was in the past, so you are ok now." and "time would solve the problem."
I know in my mind that it is in the past, but my body's sensory and cognitive functions work the same way they did in the past. I know I don't have to, but I am supposed to experience the same emotions with the same impact as when I experience trauma.
How can we live our lives separating the present from the past?
"To know that there is a world outside of the past."
It saved me.
It is difficult for people to get away from what they are accustomed to, such as habits and attitudes. This is because they are the "foundation" of our lifestyles and ways of thinking. Getting down the "foundation" takes time and effort. Therefore, once a person has acquired a certain perspective or way of thinking, it is difficult to change them.
However, if you keep piling things on top while the "foundation" is misshapen, you will suddenly realize, why is everything so unstable no matter what you do.
I was waiting for time to solve the problem, thinking it will be all right because wounds naturally heal. But instead of feeling lighter, I became more and more afraid of myself becoming weaker. People who overcome difficulties become stronger. That may be so, but I think that people who do not know how to be weak in order to be strong cannot be strong.
I was once weak and needed to stop and rebuild my foundation. To be able to live my life as “me.”
It took me almost ten years to realize that.
You do not have to destroy everything. I reinforced what was missing and removed what was not working while referencing the difficult world from what I was seeing. Then the foundation gradually stabilized, and the top stopped wobbling.
The past cannot be erased, so let's leave it quietly on a shelf.
I have decided not to "rope walk" between past and present any longer, although I do occasionally peep in.
I want to live in the present. To live.
The world you are comfortable and secure in is always there, just not yet visible to you. The day will definitely come when you will feel better. Let us not give up and live in the present together.
Translated by Kana Miyazawa
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Ren Ono