The Past, The Present, and The Future; Histories, Gifts, and Mysteries

The past, present, and future is always on my mind; the mere act of picking one beverage over the other leaves me wondering about the alternate possibilities, in addition to the outcomes that will no longer occur, all the while neglecting to consider that I’ve already chosen my beverage. Certainly, I can return my selection for an alternate one, though this only leaves me wondering about the possibilities had I not done so. I’ve noticed that reflecting on my past occurs in a similar way; I ponder and consider my choices up until the moment, and I wonder (sometimes aloud, other times not) whether the choices I’ve made have been right or wrong, and whether or not I’d have been happier making a different choice. I’ve noticed that the question of “would I be happier” is the one that I often try to answer.

I’ve considered multiple answers to this one question, based on a series of determined and predetermined results, and the truth of the matter is that no answer is satisfactory. Whether or not we would be happy based on an event that has already occurred is a redundancy and fallacy that must be ignored entirely. Once an event has occurred, the only path remaining is in a forward direction, towards the next event. In a way, that’s where the trouble with the past comes from; we think about the past so much that we neglect the possibility of the present, and the concept of the future is avoided entirely. Instead of reflecting on our past to learn for the future, we paralyze ourselves into a state of fear, avoiding the possibilities of existing anywhere else.

Interestingly, it wasn’t Frasier that brought this to my attention so much as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. For those unaware of the novel’s existence The Dark Knight Returns (hereby shortened to TDKR, not to be confused with The Dark Knight Rises), is a miniseries, written by the aforementioned Miller, that has Bruce Wayne reclaim the mantle of Batman after retiring for 10 years. His reasons are simple and straightforward; after fighting the criminal elements of Gotham City for so long, it is no longer Bruce Wayne who wears the mask of Batman, but Batman who wears the mask of Bruce Wayne. In this way, the death of Wayne’s parents (an event that places itself a minimum of 40 years in the past, during the events of TDKR) also marks the death of Wayne’s character, and the birth of Batman’s.

This is a statement that has been made by almost every major critic of the Batman mythos, and it can argued that it is the most true (if not the most important). Before I continue, however, I must make it abundantly clear that Batman is not a healthy human being. Certainly, the character is frequently seen at his physical and mental peak, and though he poses an intellect far greater than my own, it is impossible to state that he, as a character, is mentally “healthy.” Most importantly, the root of his mental imbalance is not sexual repression, as a Freudian doctor inaccurately reasons in TDKR, but his inability to let go of his past, in addition to his inability to move beyond the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. In this way, it must be stated that to Batman, a single moment defines every single aspect of his present; this is a truth that is applicable to every superhero. A single event in the past of every comic book superhero accounts for every action and decision they make in their futures, and the same cannot be said for human beings existing outside of a comic book universe.

Certainly, a single event can provide a series of different outcomes, though it is impossible to state that (apart from one’s life and death) a single event shapes the future of any inidividual. Quite the contrary, the existence of a human being is made up of a series of past events that have contributed to an individual’s present and their subsequent future. In this way, human beings are not literary characters and, as such, do not exist in the Creative Universe so much as they do in the perceived one.

The result that must be derived from Batman’s creation, in addition to TDKR, can be split into three parts; a single event does not correlate a trend, a single event does not account for every action and possibility in an individual’s future, and the past must be reflected on for the future, but not in a way that paralyzes one into inaction, but motivates one into the appropriate action. The past is not meant to scare one away from the future, but is meant to enlighten and educate one for the present (and, obviously, for the future as well). I’ve already mentioned that my thoughts on the past often leave me considering alternate routes and possibilities that would not provide outcomes like the ones that I exist in. Certainly, there’s a universe where I don’t blog, and there’s also a universe where I’m a fluffy poodle, though for a moment, I’d like to point out that this is not that universe.

The universe I exist in and, certainly, the one that every other human being shares is simple and straightforward; time merely flows (the direction is a topic of great debate, argument, heart break, and philosophy), and events happen with or without the input and involvement of others. In this way, and as much as it pains me to say it, events that have happened can no longer be altered. Thinking about an event like it can be changed is pointless, though actively shaping the future based on the results of a past event is entirely useful and absolutely necessary. I suppose my point, when presented succinctly, is straightforward: the past is history, the future is a relative mystery, and therefore one must focus on the present. In every sense of the word, I highly doubt that it is merely a coincidence that presents are synonymous with gifts.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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