The future of my past
Updated: Jul 6
Que Sera Sera. What will be will be. What about what has been? Do we let it remain has been or do we insist on making it could have been and should have been?
In school the importance of history was always highlighted as learning from the past. To learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the great men and women and shape our present.
The past has always played an important role in our life. A lot of our actions and reactions are said to have a basis in our past. The religious said my past life determined the course of my actions today. That I carry the burden of my past sins and reap the benefits of my good deeds that I did in my past life. Many psychologists believe that my past experiences and learnings shape my behaviour and actions today. Carl Jung believed that it was not just my past but the collective past of the human race that shapes our perceptions and ideas.
Most wise men have talked about the evil of reliving the past. The past is best gone by. It is best not to dwell on it. Is that even possible? Unfortunately life does not come with a delete button. What is stored in my brain is stored for ever. So what do I do with my past if I can’t forget it?
I often come across people who want to erase their past. They often pray for a magic wand which would just erase the memories of past.
Ever since I read Harry Potter I was intrigued with the idea of having a “time-turner”. A device that can take you to the past. If I could go back in the past what would I do? Change it perhaps? But what would I change? Some experiences, a relationship that went wrong, a disastrous decision, a wrong career choice, the death of a loved one? Too many things and too little time!!!
However, to quote J.K Rowling, bad things happen to those who meddle with the past. The past however unpleasant is a valuable part of my life. I am what I am because I have dealt with my past.
Why is it that the past scares me? Is it because it shows me that I have failed? It shows me that I have made an error in judgment? It reminds me that I made a wrong choices or took unwise decisions? Does it scare me because it shows me what I lost? After all who wants to be reminded of their inadequacies?
Is the past just that? Does it not show that I survived? Does it not reveal that I made wrong decisions but my life did not end? Does it not reflect that my error in judgment also lead to some brilliant contingency plans? Is it not an echo of how I fought and won over my failure? Yes there are things about my life that I rather forget. There are memories that I rather not have. However I believe that these are the memories that have taught me the most pleasant things about life.
A young man who lost his job wanted to forget those months of his life. He did not want to relive the feeling of helplessness and inadequacy. We sat down to talk about other things about those months. And he remembered the time of family bonding, of the strength he got from his spouse, the complete love and acceptance of his family, of rekindling lost friendships, of discovering old hobbies. So did he still want to forget those months? I think the answer is obvious.
A broken relationship in the past teaches you how capable you are of loving someone. How hard you tried to make things right? Sure you failed to hold on to the person but did you not discover a side of you that was hidden so long?
Losing a loved one is always painful. It is a bitter sweet memory. It taught me how to fight no matter what. It taught me that I can carry on and the loved one will live on in my heart. It taught me that I have the courage to live and the will to survive in any circumstances.
An unhappy childhood is under all circumstances an unwanted memory. Who wants to remember their parents fighting? Although it is also tinged with memories of sibling bonding and that protective feeling. It taught me how I overcame crushing circumstances to stand by those I love.
The past is not the same as hindsight. It is not how differently I could have done things, it is how I lived. It is not what I lost but it is how I searched and found something unexpected.
The past is also old songs and childhood friends. It is also warm maternal hugs and grandma’s cooking.
The past may be a heavy burden but don’t we all lift weights to build endurance?
Some would say “I could not hold on to my future because my hands were too busy holding my past”
I would say “The past held my hand to walk me to the future…..”