At War With The Past
If an alien were to visit us and observe our behavior, it would come to the conclusion that human beings are full of oddities, and one of these oddities is that we are in a constant struggle with our past.
As humans, we are creatures of our past, that’s without question, after all that’s where we come from, that’s how we define our identities and plot a course for the future.
But it seems we have the tendency to get so stuck in these definitions that we never leave room for extras or ‘mutations’ for lack of a better word.
That is, we’re so stuck in either trying to achieve a goal we set for ourselves in the past due to how we felt at that moment that we tend to neglect good, potentially life-changing opportunities that present themselves to us in the present because they don’t correlate with decisions we made years ago.
A lot of people right now are working to either prevent a negative occurrence that happened in the past from happening or trying to recreate (or in some cases maintain) a positive experience that they enjoyed.
Hardly anybody lives in the present; hardly anybody takes the time to observe what’s currently happening and adjust their sails.
When I was in Junior Secondary School, I was teased for being short, especially by girls, and somehow I equated that to mean that I was unattractive, which as I later found out, was far from the case.
But that belief took hold in my mind and it became a goal of mine to be attractive, because like every teenage boy, I had to have my harem of beautiful ladies.
So over the years, it became a script I followed; I wasn’t very attractive, I had to behave like the tall attractive guys in my year so that the babes would come my way. Little did I know that my trying to be attractive was actually driving the girls dem away.
But I was so set in this belief cultivated in the past along with the derived goal to be attractive and bag particular kinds of babes that I couldn’t even see I had my own brand of appeal and a market of women who were willing to invest.
And so, I lost a lot of opportunities to have relationships with some really attractive girls because I couldn’t let go of my past and was constantly at war with it.
How many of us have lost golden opportunities all because we were clinging to the past. How many of us have let go of what could be memorable events because we were fixated on trying to maintain or repeat a pleasurable experience we once had.
I can’t have those opportunities back, if you don’t respond to a woman’s interest, she’ll drop you, time doesn’t flow in reverse. I can only wish I took them.
But I do have the present, I can decide to get out of my head and the picture my mind has painted (which is actually where all our beliefs and ideologies exist) and attempt to look at life as it is really happening.
If I were to lose something of value, like a source of income for example, the voices in my head might go: “OMG!! You’re going to starve because as we’ve seen from past experience everybody that loses their income starves”
Whereas, all that’s happened is that you have lost a source of income, yes there’s the potential that you won’t have money to feed, if you don’t have savings and ish, but there’s also the potential that you can go on to find a much better source of income.
Yes things might go downhill for a while, but there’s also the reality that most people are more resilient than they allow themselves believe, adaptability is a trait of living organisms, we have the inborn ability to respond to change, whether positive or negative.
The past is a mental construct, a way for us to make sense of the world.
But we tend to get stuck there, never really freeing ourselves from the bonds of things that happened months, years and decades ago and so we never really grow up, we just grow older.
It even seeps into our futures; we define our futures based on what happened to us when we were younger.
And as a result, you have people chasing dreams and money only to end up having a mid-life crisis.
You have people chasing a particular romantic interest only to find that they want something different.
Lifetimes wasted trying to resolve feelings that are ephemeral.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t consider the past, that’s stupid, past events are reference points we should learn from and use to make predictions, not determine the future.
If in the past, I touched a kettle that was on the fire and I got burned, when I come across a kettle again, I have in mind that there’s a possibility that the kettle will be hot, so touching it with my bare hands won’t be the best decision, thus caution is needed here.
Not that I decide I’ll never touch a kettle again or that kettles are from hell.
The past grants us experience, proper examination of experience grants us knowledge, knowledge grants us awareness, awareness grants us options and options grant us choice.
The past is to be examined as best as possible, as objectively as possible, and learnt from, not fought against, that’s just dragging it into the present and potentially, the future.
We’re all going to die, most of us assume it will be in our old age, but it’s not guaranteed, we didn’t decide when to come, we don’t decide when we’re going. If we spend all that time looking back, we’ll never be able to say we lived as much as we could.
Live now; keep your eyes open to what is happening around you, stop fighting ghosts.
Life will open up to you and you’ll see things you never noticed and what’s more because you have a past, you can proceed with caution rather than shrink back in fear.