I’m going to start off this post with a song by Patti Scialfa, “You Can’t Go Back” as intro into the topic of the same name. I discovered the song today and love it. So enjoy before we get into this topic in more depth.(Click on the title).
The idea for this week’s topic comes from the Stephen King novel, “11/22/63.” Jake Epping is a small town Maine schoolteacher. His friend Al who runs the local diner is dying of cancer and his last wish is that Jake hears him out about a portal into the past. Al wants Jake to check out the portal and then fulfill a last wish — go back in time to Dallas, Texas, find Lee Harvey Oswald and kill him before he kills the president. Jake agrees to grant Al’s last request. A long series of events ensue. Jake establishes a life in the early sixties in suburban Dallas, tracks down the infamous assassin, and does the deed for his friend. Jake returns to the portal and is transported back to the present only to find that Al’s desired change for a better world is not the outcome. Instead, Jake discovers, life is more troublesome, with greater conflict and stress than it was before his mission. The moral of King’s story is that you can’t go back. Because as Jake learns, the past is “obdurate.” It resists change. And if you succeed in altering events, the change is likely to have negative ripple effects — unintended consequences — that lead you to feel history was better left alone.
King’s story — though long and sometimes repetitive — had me thinking about his moral. In our everyday lives we are afraid of time going forward. We are afraid of the daily changes we experience as we get older. We long for our youth, our past loves, our desire to have do-over’s for past failures. In my office, I hear about this struggle often. Clients talking about cosmetic surgery, wishing they were younger, even wishing they could hook up with an old lover or high school sweetheart to experience once again the power of romantic love that may no longer exist in their lives. One client actually left his wife and family for his high school sweetheart only to suffer the rude awakening that he really couldn’t go back, as the lover left him and he was left with a family and financial mess. The past is obdurate, as Jake Epping says. It doesn’t want to be changed. It cannot, no matter how much we desire to change it.
My topic title is “You Can’t Go Back … or Can You?” Are their things from the past we canchange? We can forgive. We can work through traumas. We can release emotions. And we can heal our pain and possibly help our family and friends heal theirs. Those are doable things, the realm of psychotherapy. But though they are often about the past. They can only be worked through in the present to propel us forward with a future that is never obdurate, but always a revelation unfolding.
So what is your take on this topic? Have you tried to go back in time in some form or another and succeeded, or have you discovered like Jake Epping that the past is obdurate, that no matter what you do it is unmovalbe and when you try, things become worse. As always, join the discussion. Give your examples. Ask your questions. Send in your favorite tunes on the topic.
Let’s go back — in the present of course — to the late sixties with the Beatles and “Get Back.” Followed by “Back to the Rivers of Belief” by Enigma and for the JFK part of the thread, “Abraham, Martin, and John.” by Dion.