The following comes from T.S. Eliot’s play “The Elder Statesman.” It’s part 2 of 4. For the previous post go here.

Those who flee from their past will always lose the race,
I know this from experience. When you reach your goal,
Your imagined paradise of success and grandeur,
You will find your past failures waiting there to greet you.

The entire play can be seen as a demonstration of the truth these words spoken by Lord Claverton to his son Michael. Claverton has lived a mildly successful political life, yet the sins of youth have now greeted him in his old age.

Like Scrooge of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” or Carl Fredrickson of Pixar’s “UP!”, the accumulation of sins in the past will always come back. For better or worse, who we are in the present is defined by our past.

As Eliot indicates, this means that one cannot pursue paradise to extract themselves from hell because wherever you go you always bring yourself. Just when you think you’ve reach the pinnacle of life, you’re on the brink of disaster. Just when you thought you edited enough tapes, a ‘smoking gun’ is found.

To read part three, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” go here.