It’s called time.
Time doesn’t flow backwards…it flows forward. The past is over. It’s done. It’s finished. We can’t go back.
Yet we often spend much of our life emotionally reliving and obsessing about the past.
We get so caught living in the pain, shame, and regrets of the past, we forget that time is relentlessly moving all of us forward into the future….into tomorrow.
If we have hurt “others” in the past, we need to own our behaviors and apologize. We can’t go back and undue what we’ve done. But we can learn to become self-aware.
Most of our growth and wisdom comes by learning from the lessons of the past.
We can regret our past words and behaviors, but wrapping ourselves in guilt and shame will only destroy our ability to experience the joy of living in the present moment.
Whether the other person can forgive us or not, the only real option available to us is learning to take responsibility for our actions so we can change the way we behave in the future. When we do, we can grow and evolve, we can learn from our mistakes so we don’t repeat the behaviors that caused others pain in the past.
On the other hand, if someone else has hurt “us”, we need to forgive him or her and move on…even if the pain they caused us is big.
Whether we can forgive the other person or not, we need to let the issue go. We need to acknowledge our feelings and move on.
Until we do, we will find ourselves trapped in the past, living the painful experience over and over. And once again, missing the experiences and joys available to us in the present moment.
In other words, until we let it go, hanging onto the hurt will only turn us into a powerless victim…..wasting our life energy trying to push the river. Reality is reality. No matter how much we might like to change the past, it is what it is.
Time doesn’t flow backwards. It’s the future we need to stay focused on, not the past.
We only have so much energy to expend in life. When we use our energy compulsively obsessing about a past we can’t change, we are wasting the very energy we need to re-write and create the new life we actually ”can” create.
Like it or not, we have to make a choice. We are going to move into the future that life is offering us every day, or we are going to allow ourselves to be stuck living the past over and over until we die.
How to Live In The Moment
One of the spiritual practices I find helpful for living in the moment, and letting go of the past, is called “calculating the number of days you have left before you die.”
I look up the best life expectancy estimate I can find for myself on Google. Then I figure out how many days, months, and years’ l have left………assuming of course I actually live to that statistical date.
That gives me the number of days I have left to enjoy watching a sunrise, a sunset, go for a walk, learn to play a musical instrument, write the book I have dreamed about writing, or create the life I have always dreamed about living.
If I do this same exercise and look at the time I have left in numbers of years, the picture gets even more focused. Assume your life expectancy is 79 years and you’re 50 years old right now. That means you only have 29 springs left to enjoy, 29 summer vacations left to look forward to, only 29 more times to walk in the fall woods and smell the crisp fresh air of winter coming, or enjoy the forest’s vibrant show of fall colors.
Your time here could be a bit longer than the statistical average….but it could also be significantly shorter.
So why spend time stuck in the past?
Why spend time worrying about things you have no control over. As a friend of mine once reminded me, anxiety, worry and fear about the past, or the future, don’t drain the joy out of “tomorrow”…they drain the joy out of “today”!
They keep us from showing up and living fully in “this” moment!
This spiritual practice is one of the best ways I know of to get my attention back onto the present moment and the simple joys and pleasures right in front of me.
It also reminds me to be grateful for all those things that so often feel like burdensome chores…. taking out the trash, fixing supper, or mowing the lawn. It also brings into consciousness the question…..how many more times will I have the pleasure of enjoying a cup of coffee, or going for a walk, shoveling snow, or simply spending time with someone I love?
I am always surprised and humbled by this spiritual practice at how easy it is for me to get caught up in the “stuff” of my mind, and the never-ending illusions I so often assume are somehow actually real. It reminds me just how easy it is for me to stop smelling the flowers…to stop showing up for the present moment that life is offering me.
So today I choose to stay “awake” and “show up”. Maybe I’ll paint the back fence. Maybe I’ll go for a walk. But I will definitely plant the crocus bulbs I bought at Lowe’s just in case I get to experience one more spring.
What do you want to do with your time? Post below and let me know what you think.