2022: Short Primer
On sadder days, I tend to gravitate towards rewatching the final season of Bojack Horseman. Something about the rise and fall of Bojack gets to me, serving as a stark reminder of the permanence of one’s actions – regardless of their motivations. In reality, there’s little one can do to earn redemption or forgiveness from the people they’ve hurt. Scars fade over time, sure – and with external intervention, this process can even be accelerated. But scars are scars, they’re here to stay.
There’s a lot of talk about embracing happiness in the moment, encouraging the act of soaking it all in whilst still fully recognising its transient nature. It’s a noble pursuit, undoubtedly, but the lesson undercutting all of this is in relation to people. In Diane’s words, there are many individuals that help one become the person they end up being, and that one can be grateful for them – even if they were never meant to stick around forever. Perhaps it’s reductive to think of people as having predefined roles in our lives, or maybe it’s not. But it got me thinking, more often than not, once people outlive this “role”, they exist frozen in time – a mere snapshot, like an insect trapped in amber, or a statue cut to our liking.
This can be a positive phenomenon, sure, especially for people who have done us good. Most of the people we cross paths with fall under this category – stagnant between our interactions with them, existing during – but never straying too far from the image we have them preserved as. I’m sure some of us have polaroids adorning our walls – it’s a similar concept if you think about it.
But the opposite is true for people who have hurt us. In keeping them around, letting them remain a part of our lives for the sake of convenience or due to our own weakness – they became our ghosts. So why do we let them haunt us? I struggled with this for a long time, bouncing between the extremes of forgiveness and revenge – but it occurred to me recently that peace can be found in neither. In keeping emotions suspended in time, in keeping them alive even though they’re long dead, we become stronger. In the idle beaches along the shorelines of history, these undying totems stand – their continued existence justified through the precedence they offer alone. Perhaps that’s why we should never be too hasty to forget. And that is how I justify living with these phantoms of the past.
In 2022, my wish is for all of us to find peace, both with the people we choose to love, and with our ghosts. Let us never blame ourselves for how we feel, and allow ourselves the privilege of recovering gently. Let us be kind to one another – giving generously, erring on the side of hopefulness rather than caution. Of all the lessons my father has taught me, one stands apart from the others. Whether you believe in the existence of a higher power is irrelevant, he once told me, but trusting that the good things you do come back eventually – now that will get you far.