BACK TO THE FUTURE
Yesterday I wore my NOW watch all day long. This watch was a gift from my husband, Jake, on Valentines Day. The only thing on it’s face is the word NOW—a timely reminder to focus on NOW.
BUT NOW IS NOT ALWAYS AN EASY PLACE TO BE
Right now I have stitches in my mouth from surgery yesterday. Right now my mother in law has been diagnosed with a 4th stage melanoma. Right now my mom is suffering from dementia, believing my father, who passed away last summer, is trying to steal her money.
Right now there are wars going on in many places around the world. Right now there are people dying, suffering, children starving, people grieving.
So what’s so attractive about NOW? And what’s so wrong with spending time in the past or future?
Not a thing . . . as long as we don’t get stuck in the past with guilt or regret, there is value in our pasts. And as long as we don’t make ourselves anxious about the future, the future holds all sorts of creative possibilities.
HOW TO WORK WITH MY PAST
David Brooks just wrote a lovely article in The New York Times about a TED talk recently given by the performer Sting. In contrast to most TED talks, which are dedicated to cutting edge ideas for the future, Sting was talking about the value of going back into memories of his childhood.
By going back to the past, Sting found value in what he called “historical consciousness” which helped him get out of the creative slump he had been in for years. He talked about discovering memories of the smells and textures and conflicts of his past and his desire to escape the old shipyards of Northern England.
He discovered there was a remarkable journey he could take . . . as David Brooks put it, “to go forward with a backward glance . . . to go one layer down into self and then after self confrontation . . . leap forward out of self”. Sting leaped forward into a fresh phase of song writing.
HOW TO LEAP INTO MY FUTURE
This is part of what we do in a Live Conscious Retreat. We often use memories of the past to bring ourselves forward into NOW. By definition, “historical consciousness” simply means waking ourselves up and bringing our past into our current awareness. Once aware, we can work with those memories from our more resourceful adult perspective—a more potent view than the one we had when we were young.
In doing so, I can get more in touch with my sense of myself. I can explore the building blocks of what made me who I am NOW, using my past for fertile-izer to be more alive in the present and plan for my future me.
All of my past made me ME and I’ll gladly embrace ME since I’m the only ME I have.
I will focus on NOW . . . the most desirable place for me to be, while at the same time, actively integrating my past and dynamically mapping my future.
AhAhhhh! Hannah, wonderfully said. Finally, I’ve found a way to correlate my passion for eco-sustainability and Reology (I just knew I would if I hung on long enough!). Your essay is the spark in me for this. Here’s what we do as humans: We love the sun so much that we do everything in our power to replicate it — first we dig up the earth for the sunlight of 200 or 300 hundred million years ago in order to make fire in order to steam water in order to be able to turn on a light bulb in our house. We blast the earth’s crust to break it apart to unleash trapped gases left over from “trapped sunlight” (which we euphemistically call “life”) just to be able to give us artificial light. All this frantic scraping and pounding and blasting at the fragile earth and sea in order to get from the deepest recesses of the past, what we can have right now in the present. Sunlight. How ironic! Isn’t that what we do in life, a bit, dwell in, muck around in, live in, the past, as if it has some greater meaning, rather than just BE-ing in the present? All of the history and mythology of religion is intended only to mine the human past experience for whatever light it can shed on the present moment. Pretty dim light compared to just being the light of the day at hand, isn’t it? So, this is my plea for solar power AND Reology! See? I knew I could do it? (Now I just have to deal with the minor problem of extraction of rare-earth minerals formed in the earliest moments of the cooling mudball on which we we live, just in order to make solar technology work… hmmm, what to do? (See how hard it is to escape the past?) Drat, back to the drawing board…