Memory and Imagination

Photo by Julia Volk on

“You cannot suffer the past or future because they do not exist.  What you are suffering is your memory and your imagination,” via paradise awakening.  The timing of this quote hit perfectly.  Last week held a lot of intense emotion for me as I worked through letting go of my past.  I spoke about it quite a bit which helped me process and navigate where I was coming from. I also had a ton of breakthroughs surrounding my relationship to the past and future—more to come on that.  I romanticized so many memories of times filled with joy and safety and little celebrations of memories of who I was and the people who appreciated me. 

My past felt intoxicating for a long time.  Not only in privilege but in the security of it all.  I know most children relish being a kid, but for me it wasn’t about the things I got—it was about how my time was spent.  There is a weightlessness in the lack of responsibility and a high that comes from unconditional love.  When you have those things together, it’s an oxytocin/serotonin/dopamine overload and I lived that way for a long time.  It was also complicated because that meant sacrificing a lot of what it meant to be a kid.  I grew up quickly in spite of idyllic moments and I think the trauma of what I witnessed made me cling even harder to what I had.  I witnessed addiction, abuse, anger, fights, misguided frustration, martyrdom, and self-sabotage to the point I didn’t know how to create a foundation for myself—I needed the ground that was given.

But as I weeded through 37 years of stuff and saw myself trying to re-create a long gone era, something came over me.  The question, “What am I doing?” blared like a fog horn through my mind.  I started to see that what started as a means to preserve memories had become a sickness, a desperation for something that could not be recreated.  I’ve been living in two worlds.  I looked throughout my new home and saw all of the ancient relics of who I was and I felt choked because there was no more room for the person I am, the person I’m becoming.  It hurt and it overwhelmed me, but I’m glad it happened.  Because the person who I can be is so vastly different and is so much more capable and is absolutely building a stable foundation. 

Now, as it comes to the future, I agree that it is imagination.  HOWEVER.  I am a firm believer that without personal insight and a deep dive into who we are, we will never see where we want to go. The past builds our tool kit but our imagination puts it to work.  Without at least some drive for a tomorrow we lose the meaning in today to a degree.  I mean, I’m guilty of pushing through things and missing the moment because I’m so oriented in what I’m making, but without pushing forward, I would be that girl still searching for days gone by, holding onto her 37 year old blankies.  I mean, to be fair, I had them as recently as this weekend, but it’s an important distinction 😊.  The point is, we have a purpose that requires us to be forward thinking.  That is how we evolve. 

I guess the bottom line is life is a balancing act.  Maybe it’s not about living in the past or the future, but learning to use those lessons to define our actions in the present.  The more experiences we have, the more we learn to let go and how to take in what we need to support ourselves.  Then we can support each other.  I have no judgement toward people who are stuck because I lived in fear for a long time.  I gently encourage you to slowly look at where you are and get really honest about how you got there.  Then get really honest about where your thoughts are coming from.  Once you discern the truth, the present clears up and that paves the way for the future.  The key is to not get caught up in it.

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