It’s now closing in on the end of January, so if you’re still maintaining your New Year’s resolutions, my congratulations to you! It may be sheer coincidence that Remembrance Day and New Year’s Day fall so closely together on the calendar but our memories of the past and our dreams of the future always seem bound together. It may be true that (as espoused by George Santayana), “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s also true that much of how we see ourselves today is based on and built out of who we have believed ourselves to be and that person no longer exists. It’s not just that your body is continuously refreshing itself – building new cells and removing old ones. Our thoughts, ideas, understandings – in some ways the essence of who we are – is also different… unless of course we hang on tight to the past memories of who we used to be. Memories can be pleasant or painful and there are varying degrees of both, but there’s one thing memories rarely are, and that’s an accurate recollection of the past as it happened. My grandmother was a very wise woman with a Grade 5 education, and one of her sayings was, “No matter how thin the paper, there are two sides to every page.” In some cases there are many more than two sides to an issue, more than two sides to a memory, but the point is made.
Memories can also be extremely powerful. Seth once said:
“… the first important step is to realize that your beliefs about reality are just that – beliefs about reality and not necessarily attributes of reality. You must make a clear distinction between you and your beliefs. You must then realize that your beliefs are physically materialized. What you believe to be true in your experience is true.” ~ The Nature of Personal Reality, session 621.
I’ve invested a lot of time over the past several decades looking at my beliefs in every way I could conceive, and each of them has taught me more about myself. They’ve also taught me, as quoted above, that my beliefs are not ‘me’ but are tools that I use to express my understandings of myself. In my continuing search to understand my own Being and my continuing expansion of my awareness of my self, I’ve also come to terms with aspects of ‘me’ that no longer fit. I’ve been reminded (often) of the scene in the movie ‘The Mission‘ where Robert De Niro (as Rodrigo Mendoza, a former mercenary and slave trader) struggles to carry/drag (as penance) a huge bag of his weapons and armour all the way from the city near the sea up the cliffs and through the jungle to the remote Native village the Jesuits are seeking to visit. When one of his companions cuts the rope attaching him to the bag, Mendoza goes back down the cliff, knots the rope and continues. Only when he reaches the top does he find forgiveness and allows the rope to be cut. How many of us continue to carry such a huge burden ourselves? Regrets, ‘if-only’ moments, guilt and more. And if someone was to release us from the bonds of those ropes, how many would, as Mendoza did, retrieve the bag, retie the ropes and struggle on? I know I did, for a very long time.
I came across a Tut quote recently that read:
“Often, having what you want is a function of letting go of what you have.
If you know what I mean.
Odd, huh, the stuff people cling to?”
It can be a challenging decision to make, to put down that bag and walk away from it. For me much of that challenge was in letting go of what it said about me and who I believed I was. In letting go, even of ‘myself’, what would I have left? Who would I be? Freedom, complete freedom can have a wonderful taste; it can also be daunting. We each have our own ways and our own reasons for continuing to hang on to the past, but I have received a couple of interesting thoughts regarding this from those who guide me. One was, “You don’t have to forget the past. Knowing that, can you let it go?” Coupled with that was something seemingly innocuous. I do all of my personal writing in a notebook with a fountain pen, and as such I have to clean the pen nib periodically. As I was standing over the sink flushing the ink from my pen I watched the tendrils of ink wash out of the nib and disappear into the stream of water coming from the tap. As I’ve often seen the movement of time as being like a flowing stream, I saw for the first time how it wasn’t necessary for me to release these old ideas, beliefs and aspects of myself as much as to release them into the past. There was a time in my life when they did have relevance, and as such they helped to form who I am today. As Richard Bach wrote in the book ‘Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah‘, “I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?” For me, it is.
So, bold adventurer, as we move forward into this new day, into this new year, are you willing to surrender the past to the past? To honour what you have been and celebrate who you are today? Every moment is a new beginning, complete within itself, borrowing nothing from the future and owing nothing to the past. Live Now.
P.S. In my most recent interchange with those who guide me, the strongest message I remember is that in continuing to heal myself it’s important for me to heal not what I think as much as how I think. In healing how I think I change my patterns of perception, how I see myself and the world around me. What we think is important, but perhaps more important is what we think about what we think, and how we feel about what we think. “Discover the feeling of ‘New Beginnings’ rather than ‘starting over’. To an explorer, every step is a new beginning.” ~ MNP