Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can We Let The Past Be Past?

A couple of weeks ago, this was my Free Will Astrology horoscope:
"Live out of your imagination, not your history," says Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. While that's always true, it will be especially crucial for you to remember in 2012. This is the year you can transcend stale traditions -- a time when you can escape your outworn habits, reprogram your conditioned responses, and dissolve old karma. You will be getting unparalleled opportunities to render the past irrelevant. And the key to unlocking all the magic will be your freewheeling yet highly disciplined imagination. Call on it often to show you the way toward the future.

Say what you will about astrology, but you have to admit that this is some wise advice. I was on a date recently with a fella who, like everyone else, has some baggage. As he described the current complications in his life, I couldn't help but think about the history we carry into new relationships. Experience is a powerful teacher and tends to dictate how we perceive "the way things are" and what is possible. Our earliest experiences with love and attention teach us what love looks and feels like, and how to get the attention we need. Everything that happens afterwards is an echo of those first formative relationships...that is, when we are living out of our history. And it's hard not to. After all, if we have always experienced something in a certain way, how do we know that it can be any other way?

Somehow, somewhere inside there is a whisper which reassures us that things can be different or better. Even if you can't conceive that all the things you've ever wanted could exist, and you don't believe in the beauty of the dream, you still know what you would want if it could exist. Living out of our history is like walking backwards into the future. You may be moving forward but you're spending the whole time referencing the past. The past can certainly hold clues about what is to come, especially in matters incremental, but our futures are largely limited by a lack of imagination. What if you could have everything that you've ever wanted in the same place at the same time? Imagine what that might look and feel like. Can you allow that to be something real that you might've simply not discovered yet?

You tell me that it's not possible. I ask, "Why not?" Because it's never happened for you before? Because experience has taught you to expect less, to play small, to give up without a fight? Henry Ford famously said that "whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." I submit that regarding something as "impossible" doesn't make it so, but it does make it less likely that you'll obtain it. Never is a long time- can you see that far into the future? How do you know what the nevers are until you try?

Happiness is our birthright. We deserve to be prosperous, fulfilled, safe, respected and well-loved. We deserve to have our beautiful dreams fulfilled. This requires us to shake off all the old stories about people and the world, about ourselves. It requires that we live out of our imaginations. And like most worthwhile things, it requires courage. Living out of our histories, although sometimes painful, is safe and predictable. We know exactly what to expect from the people and situations we encounter. But living out of our imaginations is uncharted territory- it's the true final frontier.

This reminds me of the first card in the Osho Zen deck, The Fool:
"A fool is one who goes on trusting; a fool is one who goes on trusting against all his experience. You deceive him, and he trusts you; and you deceive him again, and he trusts you; and you deceive him again, and he trusts you. Then you will say that he is a fool, he does not learn. His trust is tremendous; his trust is so pure that nobody can corrupt it.

Be a fool in the Taoist sense, in the Zen sense. Don´t try to create a wall of knowledge around you. Whatsoever experience comes to you, let it happen, and then go on dropping it. Go on cleaning your mind continuously; go on dying to the past so you remain in the present, herenow, as if just born, just a babe."

Past experience can be a shield we use to stave off new heartbreak. It has the unintended consequence of keeping us locked in all our old patterns, though, leaving no room for new experience to creep in and change our minds. Perhaps what we really need is foolish courage that is foolish and courageous enough to keep on trusting, despite all evidence to the contrary. Anything is possible, if you allow it. Soften, soften, and let it in.

"At the beginning of the word 'impossible' are the words I'm Possible." -Jonathan Brown

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