Long gone are the sounds of a tethered house line at it shrills in the middle of the night; jarring quiet bones and sleepy heads from the depths of sleep. The person on the other end bites their bottom lip in anticipation to hear the familiar voice finally pick-up the receiver and with groggy, trepidation ask, “Hello?” Instead, we have mobile phones, e-mail accounts and social media that have retired many ringing telephones filled with sweet and sometimes bitter news. The news bearer is often bringing us news about the past – a convergence of the past, present and future.
I have always been a person that looks ahead, because the past is the past. We can’t go back, unless we have time machines. So my philosophy has always been: look out past the horizon; keep moving forward, because the future is filled with promise. I would find myself saying, “pffffft,” to the past dawdlers, because I personally wanted to keep moving forward. My memories of the past are limited – I’ve always been like that too. I have to ask a family member or friends I’ve known forever when obtaining facts about something that happened long, ago. I simply can’t always recall. Maybe that’s because I wanted to grow-up fast, or maybe it’s because my foundation is based on the fact that I’m a product of divorce. And even though I’m very fortunate to have come from a loving family, I always felt like the ground I stood on was always a little shaky. I wanted to race past that shakiness and build something solid – I suppose that’s what I’ve done. I feel strong, secure and stable in my life, but it hasn’t always been like that.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve clipped the wings on the future a bit and learned to ground myself in the now, the present. This is has been a painful process for me to learn, but I realize the importance of this practice. One thing I learned about myself was I mostly enjoyed the process of getting to the goal line more than reaching the goal, which is essentially enjoying the now. Sure, achieving one’s goals are a terrific feeling, but it’s the process of getting there that I found is the most important part for me. I learned about what my real strengths and weaknesses are and what makes me push past the pain to reach those goals and if the goals are really all that important. I have a note from someone I once knew – coincidentally from the past, that he wrote on a bar napkin and it sits in a frame in my house as a reminder. It reads simply and poignantly: “It’s always better to be on the road than to reach the Inn.”
Interestingly, living in the now has helped me deal with the past a bit more too….
Ah, the past…she still remains a bitch for me sometimes. And I’ve noticed over the past few years’ that my past has come back to tap me on the shoulder – offering a gentle reminder that she’s still present. Sometimes it’s a pleasant nudge – reacquainting me with persons I’ve lost touch with. I’ve been open to greeting her with a friendly smile, mostly for that reason and I’ve been accepting of the news she brings. Lately, I’ve noticed the past has been stronger in her approach – working harder at trying to bridge the gap between yesterday, today and tomorrow. As an example, this past week it felt like I was delivered a punch in the stomach, or the shrill of a phone that comes in the middle of the night: she delivered the news that someone I knew a very, long time ago had died. I went twisting and cartwheeling back to that place in my past that didn’t feel so solid. A few days have gone by now and I’m steady again, so I’ve been pondering the past and I can’t help but wonder – is the universe, or perhaps it’s Charles Dickens trying to tell me that the convergence of past, present and future are all equally important? Is accepting your past as important today as it will be tomorrow?
Yes, I think it is.
I’ll admit, dealing with the past for me is not easy, it’s a work in progress, I suppose, but I’m understanding it’s an important part of who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.