A friend of mine once gently chided me with what he felt to be sage advice: “Stop looking at the past and just move on.” To be fair to my friend, this is a very good maxim in all intents and purposes, and for many, it could mean essential survival strategy. However, for me, the past is crucial, absolutely indispensable to my present and the future.
Every image, nuance, coping strategy and perceptual mechanism is built upon my past – laying upon the fundamental architecture of memory and learning, brick by physical brick, each proprioceptive movement slathering the cement bonding the elements together, the aromatic risings, the sheer agony and joy of tripping over and making newness, and the evolving emergence of Self. The present is founded upon and the future shaped by the past. If one forgets the past, as advised by my well-meaning friend, then we will never really develop richer and fuller tapestries, but merely keep ‘moving on’ like a trapped hamster in its plastic wheel – this kind of movement is merely doomed physical effort, day after day, on the treadmill of life.
Today, I am traveling back into the past again, researching my own writings, analyzing my own evolution of thought, as a means to traverse into a more robust future. I am looking into the Grand Conundrum, the Theory of Mind Circus, in order to weave my verbal-textual fabric for a chapter in my dissertation. I am listening to music as I work, the rhythmic-patternic-sonic interjection helps my mind to maintain articulation and gesticulation.
All the while, my every movement and decision, even in the humdrum activity of daily life, reflects the silent roar of palpable kinetic movement from past to present, projecting towards an unknown future. Carrots… my mini carrot harvest harks back to early childhood fascination with growing food. Dad was, at the same time, engaged in one of his magnificent interests – growing hybrid orchids. My response in parallel was to grow carrots and potatoes. Unfortunately, the gardener did not think it a good idea at all, and uprooted my fledgling attempts just as the little shoots sprouted from the ground. As I panfried the miserable tiny weeny carrots in the huge frying pan, I was transported back in space, time and sensory awareness. I also cooked a mini Cantonese style pork belly roast – an ongoing project to attain a crispy crackle. I remember Dad used to love this dish, and it remained my own hot-favourite each time I went for yumcha in Hong Kong.
To celebrate diversity and just satisfy a longing for some nostalgia, I cooked shrimp paste chicken – not deep fried but in the oven – and ate it with fried rice (tomato and sweet corn) garnished with olives.
Another dish that dad and I both liked is Thai tom yum. My attempt was of course a Bunnyhopscotch-budget fusion version: leftover rice and tomato in chicken broth with cheap tom yum seasoning, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese atop. No, dad did not like parmesan, but I did. I remember how I’d encrust my pasta lunch with parmesan, so that my schoolmates would not ask to share during break time, because of the strong pong! 😀 The tom yum parmesan soup tasted quite robust – the cheese gave it a sweetness and rounded body, mitigating the sharp piercing sour spiciness of the tom yum. Miam!
Coffee is needed for sleepy bleary eyed afternoons. I like mine with coconut milk! Again, a blast from my past – coconut is a key ingredient in South East Asian cuisine, that is.
This morning began beautiful, as most mornings do: cuddles with Miss Lucy in bed, then up and away to start the day. There was a gentle fuchsia in the sky, as if cheering us along as we trotted into the cool crisp air for Madame’s micturitions and what not.
My friend Rick was supposed to drop by at my home for brunch today, and then help me with some hard labour (tidying up the balcony). I’d marinated the chicken and prepared a menu in my mind, but when the time came, my brain just collapsed and I suddenly could not face the entire plan. So, Rick bought bruncheon at the Paddington Markets instead. He even threw in a hot dog for takeaway post-brunch snack, to which I added chopped onion when I got home. Friends are a wonderful invention, aren’t they?
A looming figure from my past, who still lives in my present, and will always exist as a motivating force towards my future, is my father. He was my mentor and key influence in childhood, and his legacy palpitates in everything I do now. I remember how deeply attached he became, in his later years, to his beloved dog, Tootsie – a scruffy mongrel he adopted from the SPCA, and how heartbroken he became when Tootsie died a terrible death (run over by a van). I know I shall be similarly devastated when I lose Lucy, and I now do all I possibly can to keep her safe and well. I wonder often what dad would think or say if he could see me now, Lucy by my side, my best companion and my assistance dog? “I wouldn’t be surprised,” he would probably utter, which were his words when I told him about my Asperger’s diagnosis and that I most definitely inherited it from him. It was as if he always knew.
Well, back to work again. Digging up the past, shoveling dirt, and propelling towards the future. Dad, I hope you are proud of me, wherever you may be now – somehow, I feel him still very very close by.