Free Yourself from the Past to Flow With Life

hand painting
by Vance Larson

It was a blistering cold day, and we were enjoying a cup of coffee. She was a life long friend and we met as much as we could. I enjoyed our time together, as it was a pleasant distraction for me during the work week. But eventually, the conversation would turn towards gray. And as she went gray, I would often remind her that she is hung.

Sometimes some very good people get lost. They lose sight of all the good things that are happening now. It’s as if they have lost the ability to see things as they are, because they are too busy looking at how they were. Every day, every conversation and every thought is referencing the past. And it doesn’t really matter if they are focused on the good or the bad. All they see is yesterday.

So I again tell her that she is hung. Without hesitation (it’s like a play, where the director gives her a cue), she say’s “It’s getting late. I really must be going.” She thanks me for the conversation and coffee, and without my words registering, she is gone. I suspect that being hung, is easier than the accountability. For some, they take comfort in the “hung”. What do I mean about being hung? Let me explain.

 Those who live there, get lost there

At times we all get caught up on the “hung”. But those who live there, get lost there. When I speak of being hung, people get hung up on the past. As I mentioned earlier, it matters not if it is good or bad. But their devotion to the past, takes away from their enjoyment of today. Even in the case of today being a much brighter and healthier day than the past. Their loyalty lies with yesterday. It’s unhealthy and non productive.

When you focus on the good of yesterday, it takes away from the good of today. While yesterday was a good day, your focus on it robs your ability to create something good and meaningful today. Because today holds promise. It is a blank canvas yet to be painted on. And when we’re focused on the past, it is as if we don’t have any intention of painting today. The problems lies that today is here and without intention, paint is going to cover our canvas regardless. So for me, I opt to hold the brush myself, and be the artist of the day. I’d rather not allow someone else to paint my canvas for me.

Even worse. We focus on yesterdays shortcomings. By doing this, we are already in the mindset of the darker colors. It’s like walking up to your canvas without any bright colors at all. And while no one is exempt from the dark painting days. We do have the choice to try and add a little color to it. Our mindset is literally the colors of our future. So why get hung up on yesterdays paint?

I cannot flow when I an anchored to the past 

From my 3 decades of meditation and the study of certain philosophies, I have learned to develop a short memory. Why has this been helpful? Well, for two reasons. First, as a retired crisis counselor of 20 years, I saw and experienced some very dark situations. The death, divorce and disease alone, would be enough for anybody to become depressed. But, by not getting hung up on the past, I can focus and create today. And the other reason I willingly practice a short term memory? I like to remain fluid. I want to flow. And I cannot flow when I an anchored to the past.

So maybe you have some dark painting days a head of you. I see the allure of getting hung up with yesterday. But it’s a trap. If you know that there are dark days to be painted in front of you. You can at least adjust the darkness with your attention and participation. Because if you’re hung. The darkness will overwhelm you.

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