I have something like an attic in my soul. It’s full of dusty old memories, and sometimes I well up when I take them out and look through them. I find worn out regrets and neglected dreams and a few warm, fuzzy sentimentalities I’d forgotten about. Experiences in real life—life outside my private attic—recall those ghostly wished-fors that hover around up there. Those can be the most painful. When I venture back up the rickety attic ladder to pick them up to turn them slowly over in my hands, they poke at me in all the old sores. The painfully stiff scar tissue covers up things I’ve been told I’m good at; things I actually believe I’m good at; things I can do well; things I enjoy doing; things I love; and things I miss doing. They remind me of aching could’ve-beens like still playing the French horn, or singing in a choir, or pursing acting. Things that might have happened… but didn’t. After a while of reminiscing and thinking about the what-ifs, I usually muster the strength to leave my attic to itself and pensively inch back down the ladder.
The reality of the matter is that the things in my attic are meant to be there. My life only has so much room, and I can’t pull down everything from the attic to decorate it with. If I were to do that, I would run the risk of clutter. I’d obscure, cover, or even possibly completely hide the things that I currently keep downstairs—the important things. The pieces of furniture from the life I’ve chosen downstairs remind me that I have made choices. I chose what to keep and what to toss. I chose a way of life. And life paths have ways of being mutually exclusive. But, it’s not so bad. As I look around, I realize that the things around me—the ones not in my attic—are not too shabby. I’ve gotten to keep out more than I ever thought I would, and passions and dreams I once thought to be irreconcilable have become magically reconciled. They complement each other quite nicely as they sit together in my living room, in fact.
On occasion I chance to look at my ceiling and imagine the attic with its lonely wishes. They have a sense of necessity about them. I can’t have the life that I have downstairs without expecting to have an attic. The very inevitability of the thing eases the wistfulness into a pensive, smiling peace.