I am no longer what I once was. I am not yet what I will be. I can only be as I am in this moment. This comes to me in a yoga class as I am looking out over my life around where I have been, and who and what it is that I am trying to grow into.
Have you ever noticed how often people angst over what has come before, along with how often we long for what is yet to come? How many of our thoughts go to revisiting, living in, or fighting with, what came before? How much of our attention centers around anticipating, struggling with, or glorifying, what will be? And yet, we can only be whatever it is that we actually are in any given moment. We can only change, act, create, or anything else we can do or imagine, from this moment.
Can you envision what it would be like to get back all of the hours, days, weeks, months, and ultimately years, that you have spent in your mind in either the past or the future?
It is such a propensity of the ordinary mind to fret over the future, or to drag the past around. Both are a trap. Neither offers happiness. Or peace. Or anything else for that matter that we really want. And yet we do it, over and over and over again. Interestingly enough, as bad as this is for us, it is getting even worse. How? Through the amplification of both of these tendencies brought on by how we are using the technologies.
There was a time when you could leave your past behind. You could make the choice to break from who you were at a younger age, or from ways of being you no longer wanted to be associated with. No more. Everything we are doing is being documented. And saved. Indelibly imprinted on The World Wide Web. (Unless of course, you are rich enough or have the kinds of connections that can make anything go away, but not the kind of power most of us possess.)
And then there are all the ways that we can spend our days polishing and performing the ideal version of the us we most want others to see. We can create our future yearning, our idealized self without actually making a single change in how we are living. Without any of it actually being real.
I often joke with my college students, “Thank God, nothing I did in high school, college, or through my early twenties lives on through the Internet.” They laugh. Partly because somewhere they are nervous for themselves, and what they have posted. And partly because that admittance on my part, surprises them; for in many ways, and in the most important of ways, the woman that stands before them in no way resembles what came before. And that is exactly how I want it.
Why would I want to move beyond and away from aspects of my past? Because I want the freedom to be able to reinvent myself; to cast off aspects that were not the truth of who I was, and therefore who I truly am. I want the chance to move beyond old habits and ways of being that do not serve my current values and ideals. I want the opportunity to be different. I want the space to transform.
Don’t we all deserve this? The chance to remake and reshape ourselves into the best version that we can possibly imagine for ourselves? And to actually do it for real? By that I mean, not the fantasized versions that so many post, calling it them and a life, but honest to goodness transformation of who we are and how we live through real world blood, sweat, and tears.
The opportunity to move beyond our old selves and to claim a true and authentic representation of who we are is not just necessary for us, it is necessary for the world. We are here to learn and to grow in the service of our fullest expression with the result being a greater contribution to all of Life. How will this be possible for the generations coming up where everything they have ever done will follow them around like a bad smell for the rest of their lives? How will they ever be allowed to be solid with who they are at any given moment when the driving zeitgeist is to be constantly reinventing yourself in cheap, showy, unreal, and shallow ways; performing that out in virtual reality as the new and improved version of yourself?