It is so easy to live in the past, our life story being a litany of the various misfortunes that have fallen our way. And no doubt there are misfortunes and worse, the Shakespearean “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” But at some point we have to make an effort to let it all go and accept responsibility for our life, to live in the moment and recognize that we can make choices in the present that can mitigate if not eliminate the impact of past experiences. And I admit that I feel it is mostly going to be “mitigation” rather than elimination. Read what Marianne Williamson said last week on a Facebook post re this subject:
There is nothing about your past that determines who you are in the present, unless you yourself choose to drag the past with you. That is why the Light — our connection to God, Christ, Buddha, by whatever name we call it — is our salvation: it’s the eternal remembrance of who we really are, unencumbered by any false beliefs within ourselves or others. Now, in this moment, you are who you have always been and will always be. All spiritual practice — forgiveness, meditation and prayer — is for the purpose of training the mind to see through the illusions of a world that would convince you otherwise.
And then, of course, Shakespeare always has wisdom to offer on everything. Here Macbeth wonders why a physician cannot purge the mind of Lady Macbeth of the demons that haunt her, only to be informed that ultimately only the individual can do that:
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuf
Which weighs upon the heart?
The Doctor responded, “Therein the patient must minister to herself.”