Leaving The Past Behind

Clogged with yesterday’s excess, the body drags the mind down with it.—

Horace, BC 65-8, Italian Poet

I have been drawn to the saying, “Today is the beginning of the rest of my life”, but that still implies an attachment to the last part of my life, which does not allow me to let it go. What today is—is the beginning of my life. At the moment we are born, we enter into a situation that is ongoing. We enter a family, an environment, which is an accumulation of the beliefs and experiences of our parents. Whatever our parents believe, whatever they have to work with, whatever mistakes they feel they have or have not made is the setting for our entrance into this world. That is the form or the foundation on which we build picture of the world and our place in it. We are not responsible for anything that has occurred prior to our birth. It is not a reflection of who we are, or even necessarily who we once were, it contains the tools that we will take with us and the base that we will forever move from.

We are to take what we need from that environment, and to learn that it belongs to and was created by our parents. We incarnate to move forward, and to do this, we must face forward. In whatever way our parent’s beliefs or actions affected us, we only carry with us the necessary tools for our journey forward. It is our launching pad into life. Why it is that way is not initially important. This is where we begin our journey as souls in this human experience, but it is where our parent’s journey has brought them to that point. How our ego has formed during our past lives to this point, and what gains our souls hope to make through this experience determine our reaction to this environment. Throughout our lives we will constantly hold this time as the baseline from which we judge everything else, including ourselves. It is the country into which we are born. It establishes the world view through which we develop the means to satisfy our needs, in order to survive. It a world view, but for the rest of our lives, we will journey to the understanding that it is not our world view, and not the best or the only true world view. It is in the first home that we learn to maneuver, learn what and where the things are that we need and need to avoid, it prepares of for our entrance into the greater world. Based upon the needs of our souls and the condition of our egos, we decide whether or not we will react to life in the way that our parents did. They are teachers for us. Whatever experiences we had as children were a part of our learning and not a part of our being.

We will encounter many things in our first home. Most of our experiences here are designed to help awaken the wounds that we entered this life to heal, and to develop the resources necessary to function creatively in this incarnation. Age does not automatically imply wisdom, it implies experience. One soul can gain as much wisdom in the first seven years of life that another takes eighty years to gain. Our bodies are born from the genetic material of our parents, our souls are not. Wisdom is within the soul, not the body. We are not here to be carbon copies of our parents; we are here to examine who they are and take what is relevant and leave behind what is not. Our parent’s reality is an important experience. It is the foundation for our major in this life. But like a school, or a certain curriculum it was there before we decided to major in a subject for which it was a prerequisite. It was not designed for us or by us. It was a home designed and built out of the materials of our parent’s experiences and beliefs. It was created before our arrival into the material world and has no place in our identity.

Our childhood experiences are for information only, not to weigh us down. It may be an extension of their identity but it is not ours. When we are babies, the things in the house around us give us an immediate impression of the world. That impression is that it is far greater than we are and that we are powerless before it. All of the things that service the grown-ups just tower over us. We have high chairs, kiddy tables, playpens, walker, carriages, toys, etc. As we age, we grow. Along the way our view of the world around us changes, we get larger and our kiddy furniture gets smaller, our toys lose their appeal. While at the same time we begin to reach the big people’s table and chairs. Our view of the physical world around us changes as we grow equal to, and then greater than the things in the world.

As we journey away from that original home, we must be willing to see what no longer fits us and let it go. We must be willing to see what will never fit us, and let go of trying to force ourselves to fit into it. Being unwilling to let go here, is like being unwilling to let go of sitting in the highchair, or sleeping in the crib. It becomes uncomfortable and even painful to continue to reference the past while in the present. We learned how to move around that home, how to maneuver the squeaky floors, get around the furniture, find the food, etc. But when we go out into the world believing that it is the same as the one that we left, we find that everything is in a different place, and when we try to deal with it in the same way as we dealt with our childhood home, it doesn’t work. So, when we decide that we will not approach life the way that our parents did, it makes no difference if we still believe that life is as they taught us. Our lives will not work. And if we decide to approach life exactly as our parents did, that too does not work because the life that they designed, only exists in their space. We find that we are facing a strange new world and their approach today may not get the same results. When we live in our parents worldview, we live in a house where everything is as they placed it. When we leave and go out to build our own lives, we enter a house where nothing is where our parents put it, and nothing works like it did in their design. The world for us is new. We must design it ourselves. Only by letting go of what worked then and there, can we ever hope to find what works here and now. And most importantly, what works for us.

A child born into poverty will emotionally identify with that condition, will see himself as poor, and his life and choices as limited to those of his parents. If his parents saw drugs or crime as the only outlets, these will be imprinted on the child as well. A child born to parents of privilege will expect the world to offer the same service to them as they experienced while in their parent’s reality. When this child takes this worldview out into his own world, he could be crushed by the refusal of the world to comply with his expectations. Each child, for reasons of the soul growth, will be born into that chapter of their parent’s lives as the point from which to grow.
How our parents reached the point in their lives in which we incarnated is their history. We study history to better create our future. We cannot identify with our parent’s history because it is not ours. The only part that is ours is that it is where we came from. It in no way describes who we are or where we are going to. I recently saw a woman on television that had been used as a child in the twin studies of Auschwitz. She said that she no longer lives in hatred of the Nazi’s because to do so forces her to also remain a victim of the Nazi’s. She refuses to remain a victim because she said that victims have no hope, no future, no freedom, and no life. She chooses to master her life. When we hold on to experiences of the past, we remain victims of that past, we live facing backwards, with no future and no control. It does not matter what it is that we need to let go of, or move beyond if we do not free ourselves from it – it becomes a broken record that plays the same song over and over and over again throughout our entire lives. If it was a time when we were happy, the reason we can no longer be happy is because that party has ended, but we haven’t left. Until we leave, until we let go, we can never find another time that is happy. If it is a situation that caused us pain, we will remain in that pain so long as we continue to refer back to that painful experience. We close off our options because we refuse to leave the pain behind.

Where we are now may either be looked at as the result of our past actions, or the starting point of our future. Whether or not we are where we planned to be, our ego becomes attached to either being the creator of that situation or the victim of it. We have the power within us to heal ourselves. We do not have the power to heal our experience. Our lives are not in need of healing, or of growing, they are stations along the train’s route. We go in, we get what we need and we come out. We do not become the station because we stopped there. If the station has heartbreakers in it, our hearts will be broken, not because we deserve it, and not because we don’t, but because this is the route that our soul’s planned out for their growth and this stop on the path happens to have heartbreakers in it. The only reason that the soul incarnates here is to learn what it feels like to be…, what it feels like to have____, what it feels like to give _____, what it feels like to take _____, and what it feels like to lose_____. Each stop on our journey teaches one of those things. From each of those experiences, we are meant to find a way to love better, to have more compassion, to embrace more, and to give more____. As we return to the train, we should leave everything behind except the lessons we learn.
We are not our experiences. They do not define us. We are not the baby who could not reach the chair. We are the baby who grew into the child who reached the chair and the adult who stood above the chair.

It is much easier to let go of the past if we do not identify with it. Our lives consist of stations on a route designed by God and the soul. We always return to the train when it is time to leave the station. Sometimes we don’t want to return to the train, and at those times, we are returned by circumstance. It is not a mistake, it is not because there is something wrong with us, it is because the train keeps its schedule and so do we until we reach the final stop and find that we are Home. What we learn from each stop along the way determines the next stop. If we leave too much of ourselves behind, or identify ourselves with the station we are in, we will find that the train may move, but we don’t go anywhere – we don’t go forward and we can’t go back. We move to a better station when we let go of the old, and take with us only the ticket, which comes in the form of what we have learned. When a baby closes his eyes at night, a life has ended for him. When he awakens in the morning, although his surroundings may remain familiar for him, life has begun anew. Yesterday, when he stood, he fell. Today, when he stood, he walked. Tomorrow, when he stands, he will run. The only connections between each of those days are the ability, the lesson, and the new starting point.

My younger daughter had a difficult time with accepting authority in pre-kindergarten. She told her teachers off, even attacking the assistant teacher when she threatened to call her father. Each day, when we picked her up from school, she was scolded and told to remain in her room while her brother was allowed to play outside. Finally, on the last day of the week, when I told her to be good and listen to her teachers, she said. “Forget that bad girl mommy, she’s gone!” Her history was that girl, who had tantrums; she soon learned that they were not worth the price. She did not attach emotionally to what that girl did, only what this girl learned from it. She knew instinctively that she could be whoever she wanted to be on this new day in this new life. She never felt that she had to incorporate the emotional baggage into her being, justify it, or even give it a second thought, that was then and this was now.

Sometimes, when I see where I am today and where I could have been had I turned left instead of right; I begin to beat myself up. Then I think, “If only I could go back to that moment and do it differently”, and I realize that to go back means to be who I was and know only what I knew at the time. I would never do it differently so long as I was who I was then and believed what I then believed. There would always be a left or a right turn to make without foreknowledge of how it would turn out. It is easy to make the correct turn when we have a map. And I believe that if God meant us to know where to go, He would have given us a map. I also believe, that just as a parent child-proofs a home so that a child will not venture into any areas where it is not meant to go, the universe limits the directions that we may go and choices that we may make so that each turn, whichever it is that we take, will give us the chance to learn the lesson and receive the gift that is ours. And so I accept that I am richer for the life that I have led, and I expect that life will give me as many opportunities to use what I have learned as it gave me to learn them. Learning how to stand was hard, but I learned and I took that learning with me when I had to learn to walk. Now I believe that I am, finally, ready to run.

Life is always moving forward, and, as a part of life, we too have the opportunity to move with it. In front of us, naturally, is empty track. That means that before us lie unlimited possibilities. Behind us is the past, it is devoid of life, devoid of nourishment – whatever we carry with us is rotting away. Whether it was good or it was bad it is rotten and will contaminate whatever it comes in contact with. If we remained in the victory of standing up for the first time, we would not move to the victory of walking. If we remained in the pain of the first time that we fell, we would never have experienced the victory of taking the first step.
We need to always have our hands free, our hearts and minds open in anticipation of what awaits us, and our eyes alert for the lessons and the gifts that are here for us. Life begins anew each day, as do we. We are not defined by our past, anymore than we are defined by the stations along the journey. We cannot be defined until we reach the end of the journey, until that time we are in the process of defining ourselves. We are always becoming. We are not becoming what the past has made us, or given us but we are becoming what we ourselves have set out to become. It doesn’t matter what we begin with, we can turn empty pockets into full ones, and copper into gold. We can make whatever we have into whatever we want, and whoever we were into whoever we want to be, so long as we let go. The past is behind us and it will always prevent us from seeing where we could go. It will always prevent us from being who we could be. When we hold on, we are full of what we are holding on to even though it has no more nourishment for us. Whatever we hold on to uses up the space that we need for happiness. We are not alone because no one will love us; we are alone because we are so filled with past pain that we have left no room for love. Just let go of the past and you will find that along with the past, you have released all that ever limited you.