I’m not saying that the past isn’t important. Of course it is. The past is what makes up the present. It’s all of our experiences bundled into this one, bigger moment called life. What makes me laugh, cry, trust, distrust. Why I like a particular food or smell or song. Nostalgia I suppose. But it is faint and fleeting as I try to grasp what it is that makes me feel in that moment. It’s still, even then, about the moment of now. It always makes me think of E.E. Cummings and "for life's not a paragraph/And death i think is no parenthesis."
The smell of freshly cut grass that may take me back to watching my dad mow the lawn while I read by the pool as a child may remind me of him. I may cry or laugh thinking of him. But it is that moment, again, the present moment, that I am living, feeling, breathing, experiencing. I can never go back and say, “Stop. I want this moment forever. Freeze it. This feeling of happiness. Pause. Don’t move. This is it.” I feel it only because I live it. In the present. Being mindful of that is important, even with polar opposite feelings. For as I remember those moments I sat in awe of my dad, I sit here now with a smile and a tear at once. I love that I have the memory and I cry that it is gone, like so many people I’ve lost in my life. But the memory itself, only happens in the present.
So I guess with narrative I want to feel the story too, as it’s happening. Right then. I want to live the story with the characters. The narrative itself, for me, should tell the stories of the past within the framework. To me a prologue and epilogue try to tell me how I SHOULD feel or think rather than let me, the reader, decide. Let me ponder it, figure it out as I’m reading. Let the words and actions and settings of the characters help me to deduce why a character has become the way he or she is. Let me decide what the future may hold for them based on what I’ve read of their story.
Let me keep a sliver of my imagination intact. After all, isn't that why we read?
"By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone."--John Mayer