Sunday, February 20, 2005

How We Drag the Past Along with Us

There are habits, both mental and physical. There are memories. There are memories of failed attempts at the purgation of memory. There are old friends and relations who keep us chained to the past: they won't let us escape their old views of us. "Still play the guitar?" "Still put pepper on everything?" There are familiar environments. And then there are property and possessions and the products of our past creativity.

Reputation, whether for good or ill, is another burden from the past. Bill Clinton will never be free of his past. He will schlep through the decades with the albatross of Monica Lewinsky irremovable from his neck. "Strike another match, go start anew"? It is impossible thoroughly to start anew, and it would perhaps not even be a good thing if we could.