Everybody has a piece of past they want to erase. It could be disappointing grades, failed love, or loss of loved ones. People say those hard times will be valuable for our lives. However, there is one premise to the sentence: our conscious efforts to make the present better than the past.
Tennessee Williams, a well known playwright once mentioned the concept, “Arrest of time.” Arrest, because he could not help going back to that painful and regretting moment. Williams’s autobiographical play Glass Menagerie shows his struggles. Because the play is a “memory play” based on the childhood memory of Tom (character that reflects Williams), what is happening on stage is subjective. What is interesting is that the older Tom not only narrates, but also plays the role of the younger Tom, going in and out of the main acting area before and after he narrates.
But why? Because Tom is “arrested” by his childhood, he needed to re-enact the role over and over to make sense of himself and to get rid of his guiltiness of not being able to be there for his sister Rose when she was sick and got a surgery that made her permanently defected and fragile like glass menagerie.
Tom keeps going back to the past to understand the moments. However Tom knows that getting Rose over that fragile mindset can only make him less guilty, not his obsession over that moment. Like this, the past “arrests” us, only to hinder us to live the present.
What we should know is that present becomes past after one second, one minute and one day. Today is too short to let go of for the past. If we do not consciously try to focus on our present, what remains will be sad past. No present, no future.
How should we treat our past and present? There is another character called Tim, from the movie About Time, who “actually” travels in time. His way of approach is more about the present.
Despite all this ability, he does not travel back. Not even for a day, even if he could have saved his sister from the car accident. He does not regret of what he could not or did not do. Instead, he just tries to live every day as if he has deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it. Because then, he feels like it was the full final day of his extraordinary, ordinary life.