I am a forward-looking guy, but I do know where I have been, sort of. I remember the schools I attended, the jobs I had, the businesses I have owned, but often the full details of those situations and experiences escape me. Who was the beautiful blonde sitting in front of me in my grade twelve history class, the one with whom I used to kibitz, instead of paying attention to the teacher? I have no idea. I can see her in my mind, but I can't remember her name.
I also can't remember the names of all of the band members in the Continentals, a band I played in in the early 1960's, or of all the singers in the New Crispy Critters, a mock-folk group I performed with around the same time. I can't remember the name of the Miss Niagara Something-or-another I had a brief fling with, or my co-workers at many of the jobs I've had.
It's remarkable that I can find my way home.
I haven't forgotten these names and these people because I spent the sixties in a drug-addled daze; far from it -- I don't use drugs, and didn't even in those days. I just have a lousy memory.
I am curious about the past though. I am curious about the people I knew, and what happened to them. Are they married, did they have kids, are they grandparents yet? Have they been successful in life? Are any of them in jail? Are any of them no longer with us? I know that at least three of the kids I grew up with are dead, one in a car accident, two by suicide. I know that the first girl I ever kissed has had serious health problems, at least as of several years ago. Her cousin, a close friend of mine from those days told me so.
Why is it that as we grow older we tend to look back more? My childhood and my teen-aged years weren't perfect by any means. I had a loving family at home, but at school I was often that 'weird foreign kid.' I learned early on not to let name calling and bullying bother me. It might have been an education I could have done without, but it was still an education. It made me tough and resilient. It also taught me that hate is a waste of time and energy, and a surefire way never to achieve the peace of mind we all aspire to. The expression oft used in religious circles, "hate the sin, but love the sinner," comes to mind. I don't actually love the people who might have made my life difficult during those years, but I don't hate them either. I never have. They weren't then, nor are they now, worth the effort.
Over the years, there were some people who were very nice to me. Those are the people whose faces I see clearest in my mind's eye. In life, there are many fair-weather friends and very few true friends. True friends are worth their weight in gold.
I got to thinking about these things when a friend of mine from about thirty years ago invited me to become her 'friend' on FaceBook. I set up a free account at FaceBook and, at risk of possible embarrassment, have opened up more of myself for scrutiny there, just in case someone from the good ol' days wanders by and wants to re-connect.
Who would have thought, way back in the 1950's and 1960's, as I was growing up, that there would be this thing called the Internet that made it possible for people to find each other. I wonder what lies ahead for us in the next 50 years. Will there be a magic pill that will allow us to remember the names of everyone we have ever known? In 50 years, I will be over one hundred and eleven years old, so chances are I will need all the help I can get.