You ever notice that when you’re dwelling on something for a while, it keeps popping up all around you? You start seeing examples of that exact thing, or conversations end up going in that direction. It’s like the universe is telling you to deal with it.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the impressions we leave on the people that we come in to contact with. I’ve had two random conversations about it that I didn’t bring up. And then I found that one song, Dearly Departed, by that Shakey Graves fella. I know, I’m not that fucking hip to the current trends of music. People have been telling me to listen to him for years. Whatever, I finally did this week and that song seems terrifyingly similar to the exact idea.
(I’ll link it at the bottom.)
This life can be summed up as a life-long progression of different experiences. Obviously everything can be considered an experience, but certain things hold more weight than others. When we look back, we look at past moments where something significant happened. Good or bad.
We don’t seem to focus on the mundane or ordinary moments.
I highly doubt anyone is thinking about what they had for lunch in 2006 on August 8th. So, for this let’s focus on the important ones. Specifically, the ones where other people affect our lives... Those experiences that hold so much weight, that they shape our present and future. The ones that leave a mark, or where there is residue, or there is a shadow of the person that you experienced it with.
There is something left over.
It’s pretty fascinating what shapes our lives to create the person we are today. From what I can gather, we alter our behavior based on the experiences we have had. That’s how you learn, right? As a child you touch a stove and burn the shit out of your hand and you learn not to do that ever again. You will remember for the rest of your life that stove=pain. You may not even remember the time you burned your hand, but you will always remember that lesson. That’s pretty fucking bizarre to me.
What’s even more bizarre to me is how we affect each other.
If someone hurts you to the core, it’s highly likely that you will associate that person with pain. It’s not just that person, though. That association can happen when you meet someone similar to the original wrongdoer or pain-causer. Maybe they look like them, speak like them, are interested in similar things, smell like them, or whatever the case... there is a shadow of that original pain. You can be looking at an entirely different person, with different hopes, dreams, morals, and life experiences; yet, a ghost of the one who wronged you lurks in your mind. It affects you. It can drastically alter how you treat that person.
Is this fair?
Can we help it?
I’m not sure yet.
But I think it’s worth trying.
I think recognizing that they are different is important. Each of us appears to be an individual. Sure, there are some mass amounts of people that seem like clones of whoever the current trendy celebrity is, but I would wager my life that deep down we are all highly unique.
I’ve seen people be complete assholes to another person just because they remind them of someone else. Hell, I’ve done it. For a hot minute in college I associated every sorority girl I ever met with the first few shitty dumb ones I interacted with. I acted superior to them. I thought I was superior to them. I just assumed I was soooo fucking smart in comparison. Ironically, that attitude of being a dick played very well for me. Being a dick got me laid quite a bit back then. It was confusing. I always assumed I was the “nice guy”. I remember seeing all the assholes get the girls in high school and wonder how the fuck anyone could fall for that?
I can remember the day it worked for me. There was this gorgeous girl who just seemed like an airhead. She was hanging around some of my friends and I just started being a cunt for no reason. I would make fun of her, not directly to her face, but right in front of her and everyone else. Once she realized what was going on, she started trying to convince me I was wrong about her. She made it her mission to convince me that she wasn’t what I thought she was. She wanted to prove herself to me. Next thing I know, things were progressing in a strange fashion. I didn’t stick to my guns of calling this beautiful girl an idiot after she seemed hell bent on convincing me that she was not. I accidentally figured out how people can fall for that awful shit. My mind was blown.
We hooked up that night.
I know, I’m not proud of myself.
I look back on that part of my life now, and I’m horrified. I have altered my behavior accordingly. I have changed so much that the idea of doing that to someone is so far from what I would ever want to be doing. It goes against my own morality.
Being cruel to people isn’t my jam.
In that aspect, I have grown up.
But I WAS an asshole. I hurt a lot of people in those years. I left a lot of negative imprints on others and that I wish I hadn’t. Maybe there is a string of people avoiding long-haired, smug, purple-pant-wearing, douche bags who rant about non-sense for the rest of their lives.
(Yeah, I had purple pants. I JUST said that I was an asshole, OK?)
I’d like to pretend there aren’t too many, but I’m guessing there are a few people where a ghost of me still haunts them to this day.
Actually, I know there are.
I’ve even tried reaching out in an attempt to make amends, or at the very least apologize for being such a cock-nugget.
I haven’t had much luck.
So what do we do about this? People grow. I'm not whatever ghost they are still holding on to anymore. Contrary to popular belief, people change ALL the fucking time. People aren’t like the stove. The stove will always be capable of burning the fuck out of you. It’s constant. But people can, and often do, grow.
And before you even think it, I know that some people don’t grow fast enough. I know that some people are dicks. I know this. But they all have the potential to change, and most will.
So is it fair to hold on to these ghosts? Do they help us much? Is it fair to look at a new person with all their individual experiences and only see the shadow of someone else?
I don’t think so.
But, I can see why. I can also see how hard it is to exorcise that ghost from our head, especially if the pain was particularly traumatic.
I just hope we can all be a bit more open with new people. I think remembering that we are all different and unique, is A) Beautiful and B) Super fucking important.
I am not someone else, just as you are unique to your own experiences and life progression.
Besides, having ghosts around is never a good thing.