Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How the Past Seasons Your Communication

One of my mentors, Reverend Robert Stevens, taught me that you cannot drive a car forward by looking in your rear view mirror. I intellectually understood the concept the first time I heard it, but getting out of the pool of my past was like getting out of a warm jacuzzi in a snow storm. I felt safer in the, my past. It was part of me, it was like my arm, or my hand, or an old pair of slippers. It was MY experience, kept me warm in those winter storms, and I had learned from all those experiences. It shaped who I was and even if it was not perfect, it was oh so comfortable. The snow storm (the mystery of the present) seemed too daunting and scary.

The problem with our past is that it becomes the logic we live by. It is meant to serve us, to bring us wisdom, to guide us through rough water, to help us evolve to a deeper understanding. What our past sometimes becomes is akin to eating a bad tomato and never eating tomatoes again. We have a bad experience and it suddenly translates to all experience. Or worse, we have had what appears to be a "right" experience and we make everyone else wrong. And then we respond, dripping the emotionally charged or arrogantly confident past, like chocolate syrup, all over our current life. Only it does not taste so sweet.

I don't want to infer that the past is easy to rewrite...or that it did not mark us in some way. We are only human, after all. And some of us had horrific experiences. We learn if we touch fire, we get burned. But fire can also keep us warm, cook our meals, and provide light for us to see. I think it is most useful to turn our past into a torch so we can see the present and then respond from that place. The light of the fire can offer compassion and give us permission to evolve and change. No matter what is going on around us, we have the ability (if we choose) to step confidently in the right direction if we use that light and leave the painful or unhealthy messages of the past behind. Wishing you a new vision from the light of your own torch!

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