Yesterday, in the room I used to call my world in my parents house I found a box. It was a box I packed away on the eve of my graduation from university all those years ago and had not touched it since. In it was nothing but photographs; arty shots I took long before I understood what art actually constitutes and selfless selfies of a life that seems so distant nowadays. They were photographs of firsts; first time to India, first years at university, first attempts at growing a beard and first attempts at shaving it off and oh so incredibly regretting it.
The wonderful thing about these photographs and all photographs of yourself is that you end up living within them. I’m a stronger believer that our mind lives in different time zones, flitting between what we have lived through and what we hope that we will live past. I think, nowadays, that we live too much in the past and in the future and not enough in the present but for the hour that I leafed through these brilliant memories etched onto photo paper I lived squarely in the past, happily ignorant of the future that inevitably unravels.
We think of our future as this complete book, perfectly bound and dust cover intact but we have so many rough drafts of our ourselves to bin or build on that by the time our book is complete is its foxed and coffee stained but we love it regardless. That analogy sounds very pretentious I know but it’s always important when thinking of the future to have your eyes open to building Rome over a life time.
The excavation of my past comes at a week in which friends are taking leaps into the darkness, leaps into their own futures. I, in turn, am making similar such leaps but what made me want to write about this discovery was that in these photographs our lives are so intensely intertwined. We lock ourselves to each other like hostages in a crisis because we need each other, strength in numbers and all that. The people I lived with in India for the first time were the craziest mix of people and yet we loved each other because we need each other to survive the color and heat that bombarded us at every turn. Put us in any other situation and we may not have even been friends but we needed one another and that erased any differences that divide.
After I packed the box away and put it in the boot of my car I drove home and booked myself on a flight.
They say that the past dictates your future.
Sometimes, however, the past simply shows you who you could and should be and you in turn must act on it.