The Person That I Was

Who was he, really?

In a few woo-y exercises I’ve indulged in lately, something rather surprising was imparted to me: That I should first look to the past, rather than the future. The first time the general theme settled in my brain, I was immediately reminded of one of Kane’s statements from Command and Conquer.

He who controls the past, commands the future. He who commands the future, conquers the past.

Pronouns aside, there’s some elements of truth regarding how I view the past. I’d really like to just wipe the slate clean, and consider March of 2020 as the beginning of my history. Our brains generally don’t work like that though, and even if they did, Ivy wouldn’t be Ivy without the person that was.

So whether it’s been through an inner child meditation, or a friend mentioning that my desire to completely sever ties with the past is perhaps not the best way to conquer it, I’ve been thinking a lot about the person that was. Is he completely gone? No, and I’ve struggled to come up with a metaphor that will accurate describe what it’s like trying to integrate and reconcile everything. It’s really as though some great brawl has taken place within my soul, and now I have to figure out what to keep and what to throw away. What things should be salvaged and carefully mended, and what things should just be replaced.

Who He Was

So who was he, really? I’ve tried to remember some of those succinct summaries that were thrown my way over the years. Smart, of course. So smart, that he once intentionally gave the wrong answer during a gifted English class intentionally because he found always getting things right boring. He wasn’t as emotional as I am, that’s for sure, but he was still someone who felt deeply.

He was someone, I think, that many people perceived as either ‘different’ or ‘special’. I used to have a sense of both of those things being the same, and I now I think that they are actually two separate things. Different, in that I never felt ‘right’ in male circles or presenting as male. Gender identity, especially in Snow Texas, was not something that we knew a lot about in the 90’s. I’m sure it was also a bit of being on the spectrum, since I’d wager even now it’s somewhat obvious that I’m just a step or two beyond Asperger’s.

Special, though, I now conceive as something separate from the above. I think he often was perceived as ‘special’ because of how he was smart. I wasn’t just really good at computers, but also in analyzing the human condition. At seeing that which others often don’t. Long before I knew about things like Clubhouse or SoHo House, I found myself often included in salon-ish gatherings in the richer parts of Edmonton owing to being perceived as having some special insight.

I know for a fact he was someone who had been slowly and deeply hurt for the first part of his life, and didn’t know how to sit with it or how to truly heal it. I really can’t put into words how hurtful it was to go from accomplishing so much, from being invited to gatherings of fellow special people to coming ‘home’ to the kind of abuse that existed there. Ivy has a big problem with believing in herself, and much of it stems from the above. I would sometimes see how friends were celebrated and cherished by their families, and it eventually just ended up settling deeply within me as a dull kind of resentment. So deep, that only within the past few weeks has it really felt like I’ve made progress in excising it.

Long before Ivy’s first music festival, he definitely liked raves. Even though Bass Coast in 2019 was my first music festival, I went to one and exactly one rave-y thing when I still lived in Edmonton. I recall that the title had ‘Nexus’ in it, and it was out in a fairly sketchy field close to Niton junction. In spite of barely being ready to step out of my comfort zone at the time, I found a way to have fun (and shocked more than a few high school acquaintances who were quite surprised to see me there).

He was someone who didn’t fit into most of the boxes the world tried to force on him, but wasn’t yet ready to exist freely. I desperately wanted to go into the arts, but got the ‘you’re good at computers’ talk when I was applying to the University of Alberta ( a paradox that undoubtedly resulted in my colourful academic history).

I had decidedly feminine interests, which resulted in a very difficult time in pretending to be masculine when circumstances required it. When I was forced into fishing or hunting trips, I ended up getting scolded for just wanting to commune with nature.

Despite all of the above, I never felt comfortable or empowered enough to truly derive my own set of values. I cobbled together a worldview from various forms of media, mostly centered around virtuous idealism garnered from works like Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s perhaps something that I wouldn’t change, save for perhaps not being as surprised or devastated as I sometimes am when humans behave like humans.

He was certainly flawed. The combination of those TNG values and mild oppositional defiant disorder made him the definition of idealistic. If there was A Wrong being committed, it didn’t matter what the consequences were, he would say something. This instinct was not something that was easily turned off, however. I don’t think he ever thought ‘picking your battles’ was a worthy pursuit, much less ever became experienced at doing it.

Owing to all that early perceived disparity, his soul was streaked with green shades of envy. Although he craved community and a healthy family, at times he often could only think of himself even when his closest friends accomplished great things. This is something that I certainly have marked as ‘dispose of’, although it’s going to take a bit more effort than opening a garbage can lid to do so. If there’s one layer of the cracked prism of self-criticism I want to remove, it’s this one.

There are some good things too!

The nature of this exercise biases negative things I think, but for the same reason that he was often envious, he loved to have fun and bring others joy. Whenever I recount what life has been like up to the present moment, there’s always one constant, that I’m so happy and lucky to have been able to squeeze out every drop of fun that I could. Living in residence at the University of Alberta was one of the best periods of my life. Family for me is often a temporary sensation, but it was totally there. Discovering myself during the cannabis industry boom was such a gift.

I’ll never forget sitting on a beanbag chair on the roof of the Japanese Hall with industry colleagues, about to return to a multi-venue rave below wondering what I had done to deserve the magic that came my way. I wanted more than anything to share that feeling with as many people as I could.

These are all of the things that spring to mind about who he was. I don’t know if I’ve conquered the past by inscribing them here, but I think giving them existence with these words allows the possibility of their demise or reconfiguration. I often try to take them all as a whole, and wonder: Was he a good person?

In an episode of TNG, Picard judges another being with the following statement:

We leave behind a being of extraordinary power and conscience. I'm not certain if he should be praised or condemned. Only that he should be left alone.

In that same sense, I honestly don’t know if the person that I was is worthy of praise or condemnation. I do know, however, that such judgements are irrelevant to the present. Fitting in with my general resolution to worry far more about being present, the idea of the person that I was should also be left alone.

What Ivy is meant to inherit, she will. What is meant to turn to dust, will also do so. It’s this idea of the unknown that truly excites me.

If we were to talk in terms of NFT’s :I’ve finally been able to loosely define the project, and have built up a small but powerful community. I’m now hitting the mint button and waiting with excitement as curiosity as to what might appear.