Our egos see our pasts like a book. It is a fixed, printed page, and it occurs in the order of a clock and a calendar. Moments, hours, days or decades later, the events of that unalterable past are later judged as either bad, rewarding or good, and for most of us that view rarely changes.
We enjoy the good experiences, but we won’t go so far as to give up the lessons that go with some of the challenging ones. But the bad experiences are a problem for our egos, so our egos unwisely invest a lot of time wishing those pasts never happened the way they did. But that’s got things backwards.
For our egos, the pages of our histories that we tend to re-read the most are about the bad experiences that generate guilt, anger, sadness and disappointment in ourselves, others, and the world in general. But the ego believes in an illusion.
We have no fixed past we can wish was different. We only have the events which have transpired, but our impression of those events is filtered through the state of mind we’re in when we do the recalling. In this way the past is perpetually rewritten.
We can use today to lament yesterday, or we can use it to create a new future which forever re-imagines our yesterdays.
In this way a formally tragic, meaningless divorce can become an opportunity to become a better person, and to forge a much stronger relationship with a person who better suits us. Far from crushing us, we can later feel we were went to relationship university before being freed to blossom.
What was a torturous past trauma can become a valuable knowledge base for a form of compassion that may be the only thing that allows someone to reach a person on the edge. Successful social workers have often previously learned very difficult personal lessons. Our light escapes through the cracks in our souls.
Examples of re-written group histories include a famous girl-band who went through a major public break-up over a rift between two members. 30 years later those two members realized there had just been a simple misunderstanding and that no harm had ever been done.
By adding context in the 2010’s the band’s history from the 80’s and ’90’s was suddenly re-written to have a completely different meaning, that generated completely different feelings in the people who were there. What was righteous was now ironic.
World history functions likewise. Nelson Mandela being jailed was tragic for some, appropriate for a small number of others. But it turned out that time would demonstrate that jail was simply his route to the Presidency of the nation that locked him up.
Without Mandela in jail there is no lightning rod for the world’s negative energy around Apartheid. When that struck, the histories of both Mandela’s supporters and detractors switched places. What was meaningless, was now meaningful. Time adds perspective. Like a dream, our history is always open to renewed interpretation.
Our personal history, our work history, and world history are always being rewritten by what happens today, and each person does their own personal rewrites that apply only to themselves.
Whether we write a happy past or a sad one, any attachments to our past are made of thoughts, conducted by our ego. Rather than trying to stop the thoughts as thoughts, we are better to learn to live within a greater reality, wherein rather than stopping them, we see no reason to start them.
In living life, it is fine to feel echoes of the initial influence of our initial histories. But we should not let fears or heartbreak from the past dictate our futures. New events always have the potential to reinterpret our pasts for the better.
It is true that our present can also rewrite our pasts into something worse. But because our past’s value is always open to be changed, that also means we always live in a state of perpetual potential. This in turn means that every moment of our past is always open to potentially becoming precious. And it is through the living of our lives today, that we can come to realize that potential.
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 over-thinking, 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 still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.