T here are two photographs that sit on my desk. In one I am next to my wife who, at the time, was pregnant with our first daughter. In the other I am sitting next to her and she is holding our newborn first daughter. I stare at those photos and see the Jeff-of-then. I can understand the physiological changes that have occurred over the past twenty years, how the dark beard turned gray, how the balding head became completely bald. Yet there is something haunting about those pictures. I know that image is me but I don’t feel a deep connection between Jeff-of-then and Jeff-as-now. I cannot find the threads that weave the past to the present.
Admittedly this is starting to change. I’m experiencing echoes of Jeff-of-then, the reappearance of ideas that were the focal point of Jeff-of-then. Yet despite their reappearance, they do not completely feel like they are a part of Jeff-as-now. I feel I am reliving the memories of a person not fully connected to the same person who is writing this. It is as if two different people occupied the same body at different times. There is, of course, enormous overlap between them. They have been having very similar thoughts throughout their nearly parallel lives. They’ve also been sleeping with the same woman.
I like to reflect on a post before making it “live.” I’ll walk from my desk to the kitchen, get some coffee, pet the dogs, then sit back at my desk. It is during those few minutes away from the computer that I may come up with new ideas or I may suddenly see connections that were not obvious when I was buried in the writing. The latter has occurred. Five years ago I wrote about this same issue of the “incomplete self.” However, the fact that I made this connection between a not-so-distant past and the present may mean that I am on the path to completeness, that I am slowly bringing together the different pieces of me.