Over the last week there have been a number of things that got me thinking about moments in my past. One of those things, for instance, was my half marathon run in Philadelphia over the weekend. I got to see a lot of the city that I haven’t visited in ages.
Running by Reading Terminal reminded me of the first time I went out exploring the city as a fresh new college student. Passing by my old apartment building on the Parkway, I counted up 11 floors to the windows of the corner unit my friends and I occupied all those years ago. (Ladies, the blinds were up and I can confirm those daring red walls we painted are back to their stark, boring white.) Running beyond the museum, with Boathouse Row in sight, I remembered long walks to visit friends living in West Philly not far from Drexel’s campus, and the few times I rode my bike for pleasure down Kelly Drive. I did so much growing in those years and the city was such fertile ground to thrive within.
Like all things, much of it has changed too. There’s a new skyscraper being added to the city skyline. So many of the old shops, bars and restaurants have been replaced with new occupants. Hell, there’s even a new traffic pattern on the Parkway by Logan Circle while construction is underway to replace the 20th street bridge over I-676. Still, I’m glad there are remnants to remind us of lifetimes past.
It’s worthwhile to look back on the things that made us who we are, whether we remember them fondly or they cause us to question the choices we made.
The past offers great perspective.
Nostalgia convinced me to drag out a few artifacts packed away in boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time, some for more than a decade. I’m glad that I did. Drawings, poems, journal-like entries in my sketchbook (several of which are scattered across this post) — all of these things are records of the person I was, the person who existed at the time they were created. Reviewing them reminded me that not only do they reflect parts of me that still exist, but importantly that they’re evidence of the growth I achieved to become the person I am now.
This, my friends, on a microscopic scale, is an example of why the arts and culture are so important. They will always teach us about ourselves and who we can become.