January 19

You can clutch the past
so tightly to your chest
that it leaves your arms too
full to embrace the present.

Jan Glidewell


Today's Meditation:

One of the more interesting friends I ever had was someone who wasn't able to leave her past behind her.  Virtually every conversation that we ever had very quickly turned to her high school days, even though she had finished high school years earlier.  She could talk for hours about people there, things that happened there, how she felt there. . . you name it.  And since I hadn't gone to the same high school, the conversations were completely one-way and quite boring, to be honest.

She was doing what Jan warns us against--making too much of the past.  Things really weren't all that better than; it's just that time makes things seem quite different.  There were different people in our lives, but they were just different--not necessarily any better.  They may seem better because of the slant we put on our memories, but the fact is that they probably weren't any better at all. 

But the present begs to be embraced with the fullness of our hearts.  It longs to have us commit ourselves to it, to give ourselves to it, to live it with enthusiasm and love.  The present involves responding with love and compassion to another person's greeting; tasting carefully and joyfully the food that we're putting into our bodies; being aware of the beauty and hope and potential that surrounds us all the time; of contributing to what is good and loving in our world and not to what is negative and dreary.

Nothing is said to us, nothing happens to us, that isn't meant to be there.  But we take things for granted when we're wishing things were as they used to be.  We miss the cues and the catalysts that could lead us to a brighter future when we're so caught up in what we wish we still had from the past that we don't even see what's with us and before us, right here and right now. 

Questions to consider:

Why is the past so attractive to so many people?  Was it usually as positive as people make it out to be? 

How many blessings can you recognize around yourself in this moment?  How many things do you have that make your life richer and easier, but that you seldom acknowledge or appreciate?

What are two strategies that you can use to shift your focus from the past to the present?

For further thought:

The ability to live fully in the moment--in the time and place we are right now--is one of the greatest secrets I know of living joyfully.  Because once you grasp it, freedom is very close.  You stop worrying about the past and stressing out about the future.  Enjoying life--not agonizing about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow--becomes your priority.  Your days become a gift, not a grind.

Patti LaBelle


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