I’m going to be completely honest – I have, in the past, been a bit of a dick (in the past?). Who hasn’t? I respond in my head, somewhat defensively. Well, yes, of course, we have all been dicks whether we admit it or not. I am still in two minds as to whether I would rather have a palimpsest memory which would erase all dickish, awkward, embarrassing vignettes from my past life or if I would rather hold on to them, in the vague hope that one day I would ‘use them’ to become a ‘better person’. Instead, these dickish memories just resurface at inopportune moments and often in such acute detail that I have to sing whatever other words I can think of out loud to drown out the image.
I am not going to share what these dickish memories are – I am not ready for such bald, invasive therapy (my sphincter just puckered like a flautist’s lips at the very thought of it!) But today, I decided to confront the awkward – and try to work out why these moments are so awkward. I’d read a little bit about emotional agility here, and I liked the idea of dealing with an inner critic as a source of possible information about ourselves, rather than a voice to be ignored and ultimately controlled. Could I do the same with dickish memories?
Most of my awkward memories revolve around people I am no longer in touch with – I judge myself unfairly against other people and their reactions; to the extent that I often see colleagues and friends as an extension of myself and my somewhat harsh self image. I am far more likely to dwell on a friend that I have lost than a friend that I enjoy spending time with – and over the years I have lost a fair few friends, either through my own volition (although I find it hard to even admit that) or because they just stopped calling. For example, I am not in touch with anyone from university – why is that? So, in the spirit of ringing in the new, I am contacting former acquaintances again – in some cases 19 years after we first met. I’m focusing on the ones where I think my essential 21year old dickishness may have been the decisive factor in our parting ways. This is telling – I don’t recall the other party being dicks at all – which means possibly I am viewing all this through a pair of shit coloured spectacles and actually, me not being in touch with them has nothing to do with my behaviour and everything to do with the fact that you can’t stay in touch with everyone. In which case, by dusting off the hotmail contact list I am essentially opening myself up to a whole host of awkward moments anew. What larks!
Of course, my other natural state is envy – so if anyone that I haven’t heard from in over 10 years is doing particularly well, there is a great chance that I won’t reply to them. Kidding! Again, in the spirit of ringing in the new, I will greet everyone with a generosity of heart that I am working on devotedly like a Shaolin monk at his calligraphy. Naturally, through my shit coloured spectacles, I have to consider the grave possibility of the worst possible response: Nefny Who? But at least that would mean that if I failed to make an impact for my dickishness on said person, then I can probably safely delete that awkward memory from my guilt-drive.
What do I want from this? To be in touch with people whom I once liked? To see if I can be forgiven? To exorcise my dickheadedness? To prove that I am a different person? Who knows? Perhaps the challenge lies in facing one’s own awkward past lives rather than the abundance of renewed friendships that may (or may not) ensue.