Think

Maybe it isn’t just me that’s the problem.

Perhaps sometimes, other people forget to think. That comment would have just been better not being vocalised. You could have not pressed ‘Send’ but now you have? It’s okay. You said sorry, I’ll move on. Except sometimes it takes a while. It used to be that I held grudges, that was how this worked. I wouldn’t forget the hurtful things, and that made me the bad person, unforgiving. What you fail to grasp here is that I’m the one having to accommodate your failings, and only by doing so do you get to move on. That whole conspiracy about forgiveness being the best quality? Maybe if you thought first, we wouldn’t need this whole dance to begin with.

I know that’s the real truth, now after many years of considering actions borne from thoughtlessness and selfishness. Taking what you want, assuaging your own weaknesses, this is how the spiral begins. I’ll do this, nobody will get hurt. It can be our secret. Anything where there’s not a notion of honesty is where life begins to unravel. If you have to deceive over your sexuality to maintain personal safety. If your professional relationship crossed a line. All these little lies, the moments you could have said no but wanted yes because it stopped the hurt, made you feel better. People are weak. Temptation is strong. It doesn’t matter, because that person’s feelings aren’t the concern, this isn’t about them.

Maybe it isn’t just you that’s the problem.

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More and more I grasp the significance of organised religion in society. Once upon a time, when all you had to worry about was the crops and waking up the next day healthy? I suspect the concept of death was a big deal. Knowing that this was covered for you, that God would be there to escort you to paradise and the crops would be a distant memory? Suddenly there’s a reassurance in the knowledge you can get on with planting and harvesting without a worry. If you thought about coveting your neighbour’s husband? There was a punishment for that too. Religion brought a structure and control to lives that otherwise would undoubtedly be driven as the animals were: procreation, dominance, care at the bottom of the pile. Except that’s not true. Care often comes first. It is the perception of significance that clouds everything else along the way.

On my morning walks last week I’d stroll pass a Kingdom Hall, several Catholic Churches. This town is packed with religion, close to both sea and river. It is a place of immigration and arrival: people travel here, settle from their points of disparate origin. The eastern European supermarket, west African posters for money transfer: fingerprints of global travel smeared across the town, one side to another. The Bangladeshi takeaway that burned on Tuesday morning, filled with fire investigation staff by the afternoon. Cannoli catch my eye in the small Italian diner, almost make me stop before breakfast to buy some to accompany morning tea. There is a cosmopolitan air to my home, yet every person is moved by the same, intractable emotional responses. Without order, we descend into chaos.

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I suspect obsession with the past is in direct correlation to struggles with the present. History is supposed to teach an understanding of why, to assist in the now. Except in a game I play I’ve watched history revised, conveniently re-written to accommodate change in direction. It happens to in the real world, belief that atrocities never took place. Women never had a part in history either: was this due to chroniclers being mostly male?  The church paid monks to rewrite ancient history, not nuns. It transpires the final resting place of one of the most famous Egyptian kings might in truth be the tomb of a more significant woman. Can I use sexuality as a stick to beat anyone when it, like religion, is so ingrained in the consciousness of the planet there is no way for a single voice to be heard above the clamour.

Maybe it is you and me that are the problem.

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History is flexible, supple if you know how to work materials. Except for me, and now, there is only this history, intimate moments that have gone, and I have no desire to retcon myself. Being critical of mistakes I have made myself is what I am. Only when I learn to move past and accept that shortcomings are a part of a history that spans tens of thousands of years can a willing mind truly move forward. Understanding the present and the past provides the best answers of all, perfect combination of disparate worlds.

Maybe, if I just stopped looking for the problems, everything would be fine.