May 282012
Deep Thought by Sasastro

The good memories we have of the past always seems more glorious than it really was. The more distant the past, the more glorious the good memories we have seem. The fact is many of us like to look at the past from time to time. But because it exists in our heads, our perception of events can be subjective.

Maybe the past was rosier than it is now. Maybe it was not. One thing is certain the past is the past. Living in the past or trying to recreate the past is hardly possible. Unless we realize this, we may face disappointment or even danger.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Lately, I have been watching the 2002 cartoon remake of 1980s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This remake was enjoyable. It made me realized how much I missed the campy and cheesy characters from my childhood. I even started looking on EBay for some of the relaunched toys that followed the cartoon. Thus far, I managed to get my favourite bumbling villain, Skeletor, yesterday. He is the first, but not the last, of the characters I wish to get.

But even though Skeletor is now standing proudly on my desk, things are not the same.

He-Man versus Skeletor by Rodimuspower

Changes: Then and Now

Firstly, I have changed. I am much older and no longer the kid I was, well, not really. Secondly, I see things very differently from my childhood days. As a result, the characters I used to enjoy lack a certain depth. Still, it is some consolation to like the more serious characters now.

Thirdly, circumstances have changed. There is much more on my plate today compared to my carefree childhood. So many other things require my attention. I also have a great deal more interests today than I had in the past. The Masters of the Universe is merely one of them and it will not remain at the top of my list for long.

Lastly, the times have changed. The 80s was almost thirty years ago. I cannot believe it was that long ago when it feels like yesterday. While I may feel nostalgia for that period, I have no wish to return to that bygone era. What will I do without Wikipedia and Facebook? :P

The result of my clinging to the past is nostalgia. But as I said, I have changed too much to cling to this cartoon for long. It is nothing more than a passing fad for me. Apart from a slight hole in my pocket and a little overindulgence, there are no dangerous side effects. But what happens when an empire clings to the past and refuses to change?

The Dangers of Clinging to the Past

Many people may have heard of the Roman Empire. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator played a large part no doubt. But fewer people know how the Roman Empire ended. Fewer still were aware of its successor, the Eastern Roman Empire aka the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantium endured for another thousand years after the fall of the West. Constantly under attack from the outside and inside, it never managed to achieve the might of the Roman Empire. But this did not stop it from trying to restore its glorious past.

The Byzantines proved to be very resilient. They came back from the brink of extinction many times. But each time they did, they looked to the past for guidance. In the end, one of the many reasons for their extinction was because they clung too closely to the old ways until it was too late to change. Their enemies did not have this handicap and continued to innovate until they beat the Byzantines. Despite their thousand-year history, the Byzantines are nothing more than a lost civilization in textbooks today.

Harmony by Mollivan Jon

Harmony with the Past, Present and Change

The past can be a hindrance or a help. It all depends on how we manage it.

1. Lessons of the Past

There are lessons we can learn from our past and the past. Some of these lessons are timeless and serve as a good guide in any age. Other lessons are not so relevant and some are nothing more than memories. Here, we must be careful in distinguishing the difference amongst the various pieces of our past. If need be, we have to make adjustments to apply past lessons to the present.

We can no longer change the past, but we can still affect the present and the future with our choices and actions. So, we must remember to act and choose wisely.

2. The Hindrance of the Past

The past belongs to the past. The specific set of conditions that make up the past will never happen again. While we should not deny or turn our backs on the past that make up our lives today, we must be wary of living in the past. For instance, we may cling to past hurts or relationships when we should let go and move on. Or we may cling to the old ways and refuse to venture out of our comfort zones until it is too late. Clinging to the past in this manner may cause it to become a hindrance to us in our present and our future.

When the past becomes a hindrance, we must be aware of the shackles that chain us to it. This awareness will help us to see the present more objectively. When we can separate our past from our present, we will be able to make good choices in the now.

3. Making Peace with the Past

Our lives are the sum of our experiences. What will we be without our past? When we have made peace with ourselves, we can look back on our past without too much attachment. Good times become good memories. Unhappy times become lessons from which we learn. Who knows, our experiences may one day serve as examples for others to follow.

Taking Action

How do you see and manage your past? What are the fond memories you have? How often do you reflect and indulge in a little nostalgia? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  22 Responses to “Harmonizing the Past with the Present and Change”

  1. hi Vizier – I hear your point. Take lessons from our past and run like hell. A big mistake is if we get stuck in the past but how fun is it to dwell on the past? A lot – we can think how to have improved things, changed a situation or done something differently. We can cry and laugh about the past and live in the past forever. But of course, that’s probably the quickest path to jumping off a building too!

    Here’s 2 ways I’ve personally found the past to be a help. One, if you look at the past and see times when you’ve had to step up and overcome challenges. So you can look at current challenges and say, oh, I did it before, I can do it again! Also, no matter what happens in the past, I’ve always found it to help me in some way in the future. I guess it’s the lessons learned, which you talk about, no matter how good or bad. Also, past experiences in jobs have always come in handy. We just have to try to pick up the lessons as we travel through life and not wander through life like watching television:) THanks Vizier!

    • Hi Vishnu,

      Looking back on our past is fine as long as we do not get stuck in it.

      Those are great 2 ways you have shared to apply our pasts to our present.

      It is true, if we have done something similar before, we can do so again.

      There are always lessons from the past that can help us in the present.

      And if you pay close enough attention, you can also learn lessons from television as well.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  2. I love this post – so true – you know I will have to share a personal story – I went through a divorce years ago and in the timeframe of separation and me taking the leap of faith and moving with nothing from Florida to California just to get away from it all I kept clinging to the memories of what my husband and I had and shared. The memories were beautiful. After a year or so of clinging. My wise daughter said to me, “Mom you are in love with the memory of what was”…. boy did she hit the nail on the head.

    YES I WAS….I observed the memory and allowed it and moved on.

    Freedom from the past and living in the moment,

    • Hi Nancy,

      Your daughter is wise. But it is also human to cling to what was. After all, we all have pleasant memories we cherish.

      As you rightly point out, we should see the memory for what it is and move on when the time has come to do so.

      Thank you for sharing your story and lovely comments! :)

  3. I love this post too.. I’ve read the entire article, yeah we really to learn from our past take it as a lesson for the future that we will be going through. Thanks for sharing and for those nice comments. :)
    Cassandra Koh recently posted..eToro DemokontoMy Profile

    • Hi Cassandra,

      As long as we learn from the past and harmonize those lessons with our present and future, we will be fine.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  4. Hi Irving,

    As you know, I have a big move coming up and NO earthly idea of where we are going. This would normally freak me out completely. However I read an astrology article that said,”Things that began 7 years ago can be salvaged now if you wish. But if you cling to them, they will cause far more trouble in the future.”

    Who wants that? Not me. Letting go. Having faith.

    You just made me remember something that I did once to avoid clinging to the past – I kept a “nice” voicemail and a “rotten” voicemail from one person. That way I could remember both sides and not have rose colored glasses on about the past. Eventually they got erased.
    Julie | A Clear Sign recently posted..Ignore Your Spiritual Team’s Messages At Your PerilMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,

      Letting go and having faith is not easy. But once we have done all that we can do to ensure the odds are stacked in our favour, we have to let go, step back and have faith.

      When I was younger, I used to keep a lot of smses and emails. But no longer. The people have moved on and the moments no matter how nice have long passed.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. This is an interesting reflection! I really understand your point and feel very little is to be had from living in the past. Generally, I spend little time dwelling on the past. At the same time, though, our past lives in our bodies in a certain way as our past habits have culminated in created certain neuronal pathways in our brain. Trauma and other childhood wounds can live unconsciously within dictating our experience of the present. To some extent, we can retrain our brains by living fully in the present moment, but I’ve also found it beneficial to see how the past is living in me now in order to heal and transform it. Thanks for this stimulating article.
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..A Sensational Taste of AwarenessMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      Living in the past is more obvious than living our past lives and habits which cause us to behave in certain ways.

      But yeah, we have to be aware of these behaviours within and take steps to manage them slowly, especially if they are leading to poor choices and actions.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  6. Making peace with the past. So interesting to read this post this morning because during my meditation time this morning, I started remembering things about my youth, things that were painful and sad and embarrassing. Very uncomfortable! I usually move quickly away from these thoughts, but today, I just held them with compassion and let them go gently.

    Another thought about the past. Sometimes other people stay stuck in “our” past. What I mean is that perhaps we have moved on and changed, but people continue to see us the way we were. A few years ago, someone got upset with me for things that I did as a teenager and young adult. All that was true, but I wanted to say, “I’ve become a better person since then!” I’m not sure that mattered.

    Anyway, your post today got my mind rambling over several things!
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Take Your Medicine!My Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      Yeah I also recall painful past experiences when I am meditating or in a reflective mood. Sometimes they just pop up out of nowhere.

      I like how you held these memories with compassion and then let them go. Facing them with courage and understanding ensures that they are less likely to appear in the future.

      Yes I know what you mean about other people staying stuck in our past. If we have not kept in touch with them, that is probably the last reference point of our lives that they will return to. But sometimes, people just like to remember certain things even if they are in touch with you. This merely goes to show the filters they have, the projections they make and the trouble they have with letting go.

      You’re a better person for the way you handled it. :)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. This is a big one, Irving,
    James Long said, “One reason God created time wasso that there would be a place to bury the failures ofthe past.” Failures of the past often carry NO’s with them; therefore, it’s important to leave failures of the past in the past, where they belong.One of the great skills of the mind is its ability to travel backwards in time. Nothing else does this. Neither light nor time travels backwards. The planet does not reverse its rotation. So, what’s the reason the mind can float back in time? It is for learning purposes. If we’re looking at old mental movies of past failures, hoping to change things back there, then we’ve temporarily misplaced our sanity!

    Like you Irving, we would all do well to seek the truth; it brings clarity to confusion, which ends delusion. When delusion ends, healing begins. Earnestly seeking the truth requires letting go of old patterns of thought that stop our naturally curious and ambitious spirit from working for us.

    • Hi Rob,

      I agree. Failures of the past should remain buried in the past. There is nothing more we can do about them anyway. But as you rightly pointed out, we need to learn from our failures and mistakes. Once we have learned the lessons we needed to learn it is time to let go of the past and move on.

      We should let the truth guide us and focus on the present and the future where we can still influence and shape the outcome of events.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  8. I think that living in the past in always a hindrance, we always have to look forward and take care about shaping the future. What already has been happened, there’s nothing to do with it.I think.
    Manuela recently posted..When do you need teeth implants?My Profile

    • Hi Manuela,

      You’re right. Living in the past distracts us from focusing on the present and the future. It is a hindrance.

      Once we have learned the lessons we need to learn from our mistake and made peace with the past, it is time to let go and move on.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  9. i LOVED She-Ra!!!!
    sorry i don’t have anything wise to say :p

    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch | be me. be natural. recently posted..Comment on delusional by Anna BMy Profile

  10. We have to learn to manage our past the right way, we mustn’t forget about it but mustn’t live in it, we always have to face the future to be able to shape it. Thanks for this inspirational post!
    Regina recently posted..Segeln mit dem Hund???My Profile

    • Hi Regina,

      I am glad you found my post inspirational. :)

      Yes you are right. We all have a past, but it is how we manage it that truly matters.

      Only when we manage the past well can we hope to shape our futures the way we want.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  11. It is one of the most difficult processes in a human life, to live in harmony with the past, while planning the future and living in the present. This triumvirate os one of the secret keys os success, I think. Great post, really inspirational. Thanks for sharing it.
    Lisa recently posted..Kontaktlinsen für AnfängerMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes it is difficult to live in harmony with the past, live in the present and plan for the future. Difficult, but not impossible.

      As you rightly point out, doing so is one of the keys to success.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

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