That Was Then, This is Now (2014)

Hey, kids, and welcome back to another fabulous year of Dignitary’s Retreat! Having concluded my union-negotiated winter break, I am back in the saddle, relaxed, refreshed and rarin’ to go. But, first off, let me take a moment to thank you, my devoted readers, for your interest and support. While I love doing what I do, the fact that you find it worth your time to read my posts, consider my posits, and see how they might integrate with your lives, well, all I can say is that means a lot to me. Together, let’s make 2014 a year of increased activity and insight, so…buckle up!

 

As the calendar year turns over each January, it’s a natural time to do as the Roman god of passages and transitions, Janus, did—look backwards and ahead. Where I want to focus today’s post is on the little matter of personal identity and how much of the past we carry into this thing we call ourselves versus who we allow ourselves to be going forward. (Oh, brother, you mutter, here she goes again talking in circles.) Now, while it’s unavoidably true that a great deal of who we are is based on our families and experiences, it is not dispositive—which is what a lot of people get tangled up in. There is a strong and understandable tendency to define ourselves according to what our families told us about who we are—and I have no problem in taking pride and finding solace in a shared familial past—but the past is the past. I mean, you weren’t the one hopping on board some creaky ship finding your way to the new world! You didn’t do that, somebody else did. And, if they didn’t do that, maybe they were the ones to raise a family of 13 on the Dakota plains or build a business empire in Atlanta or survey Alaska before it became a state—or even rob a bank, thus spending the rest of their lives in prison. My point is that as much as any of these episodes may have influenced your life experience, they do not define it.

 

You do.

 

So, my first question of the year, fellow re-booters, is how much of the past sets the parameters for who you are today? How far are you willing to allow other people’s choices, mistakes, or expectations to define your definition of yourself? For example, are you the caretaker of three generations’ worth of stuff you didn’t choose and would just as soon not have? What makes you hold onto it all? Now, substitute the words “perspectives” or “emotional baggage” for “stuff” and see what happens.

 

In my experience, I have seen people cling to the past because they’re too afraid to believe they might be worthwhile in their own right, without all those ancestoral references or achievements which make people sit up and take notice. Or, they fear that if they let go of large parts of the past such an action, somehow, invalidates the deceased relatives they loved and cherished. Letting go is tough, I know. But in order to make room for new things, in order to cultivate the wonder that accompanies new experiences we have to let go of the old. The same is true for you—are you, today, the same person your parents told you you were? Could they possibly know everything about the person you’ve become? Of course not! And, who you thought you’d be at fifteen is not an entirely accurate picture of who you have become. So, think on this awhile. It’s a new year and time for a new understanding of who you are—unbound from the choices and expectations of those who came before.

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One Response to “That Was Then, This is Now (2014)”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Happy New Year to you Chrisanna. Good to see you a few weeks ago!

    Nice blog

    Jim

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