Wanting the Past or Wanting the Present

Wanting the Past or Wanting the Present

How many times have we yearned for something in the past? Could it be as simple as a delicious meal that left you in a state of blissful appreciation, or could it be as huge as a longing for a loved one, say a parent, or a child, a partner or spouse, a best friend, all of whom are no longer alive? Could it be yearning for how we used to look and feel- fit, tanned, lithe, filled with energy. Or perhaps it is a favorite possession, the old car we sold, which would now be a collector’s item, or an opportunity we passed up such as a job much better suited to our skills, a lifestyle we would have loved, the person we used to be, versus the person we are now- have we really changed that much?

The marvelous opportunity, and may I stress it is an amazing opportunity that we are being given moment by moment, is that we can choose, based on all the parameters present in our life now, how we want to be, what we want to manifest.

There is no question the past influences who we are now. I can look back now and say I’m so grateful for all those times, even the tough ones where I was an outsider to a language, a culture, a school where all the other classmates had been growing up together. I’m also grateful for the cringe-worthy mistakes I made. I’m grateful for them all, even the ones that wake me up at night, wishing I had done things differently, only to realize at dawn that my brain was working on overdrive to protect me from repeating the same thing. Lucky me! Out with the cringe factor and in with the fresh beginning, a new start!

This glorious opportunity is to discover who you are NOW. Are you still the introvert who hides in the back of the class, hoping not to be called on? Are you now the person, who has relinquished the impossible task of pleasing everyone? Are you accepting of who you are now while having goals that come from a place of loving yourself? Loving yourself enough to get enough exercise, healthy foods, and self-care, while reacquainting yourself with who you are now?

An eye-opening project is to make a list of all the things you think you are now, and the things you are striving for. Once you make your list, ask yourself, are you convinced this is a true reflection of the present moment? Or are you listing things you were in the past and wanted in the past and continue to want out of habit? Do you see yourself as a label, such as being raised in a mindset, and therefore you feel you must remain in this mindset for life?

As a fictitious example: suppose you were raised in the South as a female and taught to take care of all family members- feed them, care for them in illness, politely agree with them, even when inside you don’t want to. All the while your heart yearns for quiet and reflection, rather than filling every moment of silence with conversation. You have learned to hide your inner life, your hopes and fears because such things were never discussed or questioned. You learned to hush that inner voice when listening to authority figures. You learned that to yearn for a different way of living was ‘wrong.’ Now, all of a sudden, one or more family members have passed, and authority has shifted from them to you. You become your authority. Wow, what a shift! What does that feel like? Do you perpetuate the same pattern, or do you listen to that inner voice at long last?

Why do we long for the past? Were our lives really that stable, that secure? Or is it that the past is known, and therefore safe, whereas in the present it feels like anything can happen? Of course, logically, the uncertainty in the present moment is always there, whether it was back then in your glorified past when things were ‘better’ just as they are in the now, right now.

Uncertainty?? Well yes, we can look at uncertainty with trepidation and anxiety or as an opportunity to create, choose, and manifest who we are now.

We may meet someone who is living in the past. They hang on to who they were, their former profession, and their likes and dislikes (try something new??). Believe it or not, this attitude makes them seem much older than their years. They refuse anything new- a new type of food, a new TV program, perhaps no computer, no cell phone, ‘no’ to so much in life. Is there anything they like better now that wasn’t part of their past?

It is rather marvelous to discover who you are now. And, in doing so, let go of the yearning for a past that is not part of your present. Taking the time to reflect on who you are now means also reflecting on what you want to strive for now. If you are yearning for the past, it can be challenging to see. In this marvelous opportunity of the present moment, what excites you? What appeals to you now?

1 Reply

  1. Anne, What rich wisdom you have expressed in the blog. I finally found this website of yours. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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