Imagine your life as a high-tech movie that is shown as it is made. This movie will play only once, in only one direction, and only one frame will be in front of the bulb of consciousness at any given moment. That frame is known as the present moment. Once you have seen a frame you will never see it again. Since the film is being made as it’s shown, you do have the option to re-create a previous frame in a later scene, but it still won’t be the original frame—it’ll be a new one that you have purposefully built to look like the old frame. Life is always new, even if that newness is invested in reconstructing previous times.
Keep in mind that the film is being made as it is being shown. When we say we have become conscious, what we mean is that we have become aware of our role in the creation of our film/reality. If we change our thoughts we will change how things are. Can you see then how this saves you from suffering about the past? Can you see how, just by understanding this one point, you can be free of a big chunk of optional suffering?
Once you’re conscious you know that you decide which movie you’re making. So you know that you can’t blame flashbacks on the characters in the scenes. Those thoughts are yours. So if you’ve chosen to edit in some flashback from a painful time in your life then that is your choice. But then don’t expect to feel happy during a sad scene. If you want to re-construct an unpleasant past event then of course you get the emotions that go with it. It’s a very simple system. But likewise, being happy’s that easy too.
You’re the Director. You decide how you want your story told. If you choose to make horrors or maudlin dramas then don’t be surprised when you get the appropriate reactions. The real question is, are you going to choose to meaninglessly re-construct troublesome past experiences, or are you going to use that same psychological energy to create some new and worthwhile experience instead?
The film that’s been shown has been shown. You can’t go back and fix the past. The more you return to it the more you keep it alive in the present moment. You can argue for how compelling it is. You can suggest it’s natural to re-live it. But none of that explains why you aren’t that way about dozens of other things in your life. No, sorry: you choose your thoughts. If you’re thinking painful ones then that is not because those thoughts weigh more or something strange like that. “Important thoughts” are ones you think often, whereas “unimportant thoughts” you barely think at all. That is the only difference between the two—the weight of your consciousness.
You can’t make a film by thinking about the scenes you’ve already shot. Those are done and you’ve moved on. You have to get focused on the scene you’re in. Using current scenes to meaninglessly repeat previous scenes is insane. Recognize your freedom and ability. Create scenes that are easy to enjoy. Forget the idea that you will make the present better by revisiting the past. Save yourself from your own flashbacks and be alive today instead.
Now go and have/create/direct yourself a wonderful day!
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.