We gathered at the place of memory. A trio of selves, images of one self. Together a strange kind of trinity. Memories lost, memories new, and memories yet to be. This meeting made in time, birthed by a life lived past, present, and future. A meeting of reinvented people built by experience, learning, and history. So unusual it is to meet such different versions of oneself.

I don’t know these other people. Can I say “other” about those who also claim to be me? Has life changed us, changed me that much? Face-to-face the past and future stand before me. They confront, judge, and question my very presence as the so-called “present.” But don’t they also occupy their own present? These questions stand before me, and I to them. Who is the real me?

My past before me, our past. This younger man who still shines with the brilliance of youth. Eager and hopeful as one who is still a dreamer. He hasn’t had to make the same choices, suffer the same disappointments, worry about the same problems. No, he still carries that coveted naïveté that comes from the spring of life. And in confusion we look at one another. This past doesn’t understand my present, our present. “Where did my dreams go?” he wonders.

The future remains, my Venir. Mysterious and shrouded in its appearance, a shifting specter of what’s to-be. Birthed from the maybes of decisions yet-to-be made, experiences yet-to-be had, lessons yet-to-be learned, this individual still emanates more potential than actuality. Ever moving, the future is not yet written, but a form has begun to take shape. One that I still might influence and mold, time remains for this present to fashion that future. But that influence will wane over time until the day I cease to be, becoming him instead. “Where will I go?” I wonder.

At this meeting place of time we stand together as past, present, and future. And knowing this moment won’t last much longer, we search for understanding and meaning. And though we’re the same, our differences make such a search fruitless and frustrating. For we no longer desire the same things, believe in the same causes, hold the same faith. This is a trinity of strangers, held weirdly together by the bonds of time, occupying the spaces of existence, struggling to find a way out of this relationship. Who is the real me? Is it my past, that youth who still places his hopes on idealistic dreams? Is it my future, the ghost to-come who gathers form at my dying present? It is my present, which gives way to both the past and future, torn between two experiences of time?

And herein lies the source of our discomfort. We are one and the same, but different. We are together, but separate. We are one body, but three forms. We are three lives in one life. And as much as it pains us so, we each depend on the other. Every past needs a future. Every future needs a past. Both held together by the experience of the present.

Photo by Maximilien T’Scharner on Unsplash

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