It can be astonishing, when one listens and pays attention, how much time us humans spend recreating the past and bringing it again and again into the present. This morning in the coffeeshop I overheard a random normal conversation between a customer and the barista, where they spoke about the weather: do you remember how this year it was not sunny for Pride, do you remember how this year it has been cold almost all the time, how it was hardly sunny at all. Over and over the conversation went, recalling past events. During the exchange this morning I could literally feel my brain reaching into that magical space of creation, that place where our thoughts take shape, form into vibrations that ripple into physical form. This was not a memory being pulled back from a storage device, in the traditional interpretation of how we work, I could feel that this was an act of creation. A new thought of a cold summer was being formed, linked in resonance with the vibrations of the barista’s words. In previous times I would have called this a memory, but I have developed an awareness more recently that is more able to distinguish these acts of creation. It is my somewhat radical position that when we do this, we are not actually remembering these events, we are (re)inventing them.
I have been practicing for a few months now listening to the content of the conversations around me, noticing when they are about the present, the now, and aimed at creating a current reality in line with what the person wants, versus re-telling a story that clearly they have some investment in re-creating, re-inventing, which has the effect of re-creating the past in the current yet again.
There is no judgement here – this is pretty normal human behavior. It helps form connections between people, builds a sense of safety. If someone wishes to stay in the same version of their world as before, then of course that is what they should do. But if change is desired, then in my experience re-creating the past in the current over and over is not a particularly helpful path.
This was something I did for many years, during and after a decade-long depression. When I began to feel much much better, and I began to feel feelings again, in particular feelings like joy and happiness, it took me quite some time to stop recreating the experiences I used to have when I was depressed. Meaning, when I was outside somewhere enjoying myself, for a long time I would not let myself trust these feelings, and I kept my internal label of depression for a long time. After a while I noticed that I was doing this – even though I was happy, I was keeping the label “depression”, and “I have depression” for myself. I recognized that I was doing this, and wanted to stop, but felt that I couldn’t, I didn’t know how. Eventually I gave myself fully into the process of letting go, I learned to live in the now, and stop re-creating the past in the current, and that’s when things started to change extremely rapidly.
The reality we see around us is actually an echo of a previous now. In some moment in the past we thought thoughts, and took actions, that resulted in the things, places, people that are around us right now. If we choose to recreate our past experiences, and make them current again, then our reality will continue to be shaped around them. But we do have a choice, in every moment, to be different, which will ultimately result in a new reality coming into being based on this new now.