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The Past . . . March 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Poetry.

The haunting, addictive refrain

Of a familiar song

A security blanket

Shrunken with time

Tattered and torn

Poignant memories

Piled high on a dusty shelf

A pale, pallid shadow

Of its former self




Zen Parable:  You must empty yourself of the past to receive the present.

How refreshing
the whinny of a pack horse
fully unloaded!
~ Classic Haiku

Related post:  Stop Watching Stale Reruns * Celebrate Life * Be Here Now *   Your Brain On Bliss10 Happiness Boosters * Living Without Regret (TSN) * While The Sands Of Time Flow (Mirth & Motivation) * The Waters Of My Life (Water Witch’s Daughter) * The Good Old Days (Kristen Lamb’s Blog)


1. Jackie Paulson 1966 - March 23, 2011

It is so true, we must rid the past to live today. Why do we as adults keep talking and talking about our past? Well, See I know of older people like 50 years old, who go on and on and on about this and that and their “past.” I really hate it. It doesn’t’ exist, “today.” I think in order to stop talking about the past that it means we are “over” it. Great post.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Thanks, Jackie. It’s an issue of balance, like most of life.

Hanging on to fond memories and sharing them without others is not a problem . . . unless doing so prevents us from living joyously in the present moment.

In the timeless present, we don’t need a reason to be happy . . . we just are.

Don’t be sad that it’s over . . . be happy you enjoyed it. 😀

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Another thought, Jackie ~

We cannot share what we’ve learned with others . . . they must walk the path themselves. All we can do is point the way.

May all beings have happiness….always._/!\_

2. judson - March 23, 2011

This one is tough for me.

My blog was originally entitled “Life in the Past Lane”.

Today, I call it “Footprints in the Sand” and although the emphasis of what I write is largely the same … it never was just about dwelling on the past.

I think as long as we have the capacity to remember, our past will exist and we owe it to ourselves to celebrate the things that made us happy and to try to come to grips with the things that made us sad.

Trying to understand where you’re headed without knowing where you came from is difficult.

— Judson

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Judson, we may be saying the same thing in different ways.

Looking over our shoulders to see our footprints in the sand reminds us of our progress on the journey through life.

Standing still (or attempting to retrace our steps) because we are mired in the past stalls our forward momentum.

We must let go of the past if we want to keep moving forward.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011
3. CMSmith - March 23, 2011

I like the past. It adds richness to my life. It is the base from which I view and interpret the present.

Being stuck anywhere is not a good thing, including the present moment, which links us to our past and our future.

I haven’t figured out the meaning of life yet. I want to be happy, and generally am, but I’m not sure that my purpose here is simply to be happy. Could be. Don’t know.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Life is a continual stream of experiences. To experience this moment fully, we must let go of the last.

We don’t have to forget the experiences we have had . . . that would be impossible. We just need to be willing to embrace change and what is offered right here, right now.

I agree with the Dalai Lama: Happiness (inner peace, not hedonism) is the goal behind all goals. When we are engaged in our life purpose, we are happy. When we ignore our life purpose, we grow frustrated.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011
Jackie Paulson 1966 - March 23, 2011

Thanks for those links I needed them.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Yay! Pull up a chair, relax, and have a look around. 😀

If you’re interested in posts on related issues, you can search by word (happiness) or category (mindfulness). Let me know if you need any assistance.

4. nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Eliz has a post today that ties in nicely:


Wasting time in regret and wallowing in self pity is rarely a productive use of our most limited and valuable resource . . . TIME.

5. adeeyoyo - March 23, 2011

I used to wish to be happy – but what is happiness? I think we must wish to be content. Content that we are living our lives the best way we know and, if we are religious, to bring honour to our Maker.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Yes. That’s the happiness I look for too, Adeeyoyo. Inner peace, contentment, gratitude, etc.

Happiness is never in things . . . it is in us.

adeeyoyo - March 23, 2011

I SO agree with you. Btw, beautifully written poem!

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Thanks, Adee. I actually wrote this some time ago . . . back in the “past.” I pulled it out and dusted it off to share today.

The past has its purpose after all, eh? 😉

6. Maggie - March 23, 2011

I draw a lot of inspiration from events in the past, but that same inspiration also helps me look toward the future with hope and enjoy the present. I am happy that my past is the past and grateful that I was able to learn from it.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Great way to live, Maggie.

Reach into the past, grab whatever inspiration you need, and use life lessons to make your dreams for the future come true.

7. Rosa - March 23, 2011

Beautiful poem Nancy! I think I might print it up and look at it every day for a while!! Would you mind?

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

I would NOT mind at all. Delighted that it resonated with you. 😀

8. Cindy - March 23, 2011

I’m with CMSmith, I treasure my past, it adds a layer to my present life; without that layer I wouldn’t be the ‘me’ I am today.

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

I agree with you both. Our past flows into the present . . . but we can’t chase it downstream. 🙂

It’s the difference between sitting down to the tastes, textures, and aromas of a delicious dinner today . . . versus trying to recall a delicious dinner from the past.

No matter how wonderful the memory, it pales in comparison to enjoying a slice of life today.

9. suzicate - March 23, 2011

You must empty yourself of the past to receive the present. – how true it is! Acceptance is everything in the ability to move forward!

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Yes, indeed. It’s hard to enjoy all the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of THIS moment if we’re dwelling on last night’s dinner or yesterday’s argument with our spouse.

Enjoy the day!

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Loved your post today, Suzi. The last line . . . WOW!

Once upon a time, I used to run through the river…now, the river runs through me.

Ties in perfectly with this post: The past shapes who we are today . . . as it is absorbed into our being. We don’t have to chase the droplets downstream . . . we carry them with us.

For those who are interested:

SuziCate - March 23, 2011

thanks…on the same wave length here…a visit back home this past weekend, reflecting…all is good. If you get a chance, check out this recent contest win of mine, explains where my head has been. http://womensmemoirs.com/memoir-scrapbooking/memoir-contest-winner-reflections-on-green-difficult-memories/

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Beautiful memoir, Susan.

And terribly sad.

10. Shannon Sullivan - March 23, 2011

I love all of the “p” words you put together in the poem … making the poem feel more “p”alpable 😉

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Thanks! I like that . . . palpable. 😀

11. souldipper - March 23, 2011

I am a culmination of all my past(s). I carry the essence, but not the load.

Love the photo. It reminds me – I have to make an appointment!

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Wonderful way to put it . . . we can keep the memories without carting around the emotional baggage. 🙂

And we need not analyze who were WERE at any given time in the past in order to KNOW who we are today and who we wish to be tomorrow.

Now . . . make that appointment! 😀

12. Carol Ann Hoel - March 23, 2011

Great imagery you created with your description of the past when it becomes prison-like. The value of recalling one’s past, except as it performs as a springboard to reaching greater heights in the future, is questionable. If thoughts of the past diminish the joy one’s present experience, put them to rest. Don’t think them. But this may be easier said than done. I rely on God for help in difficult situations. His intervention always makes a difference for me. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Yes! The past can become a prison of our own making ~ and we hold the keys.

Memories are lovely. Suffering from permanent amnesia would be terrible. Using “selective amnesia” allows us to enhance our joy in the present while hanging on to the gossamer threads of past joy. 🙂

Wonderful analogy, Carol Ann.

13. Debra - March 23, 2011

Be here now. Letting the past flow over me…for me..it is flowing…once i let it stagnate…i stop learning and start suffering.

I want to remember for that is how I am here….but remembering without grasping…is how i want to be.

good topic:)

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Wonderful points, Debra.

Going with the flow without resisting. Remembering without grasping.

14. kateshrewsday - March 23, 2011

I love the past but I’m always in such a hurry to get to the future….

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Life = the ultimate balancing act. 😀

15. libraryscene - March 23, 2011

My past walks with me, but I don’t walk with my past..it has taken a long time to switch paths. Lovely post!

nrhatch - March 23, 2011

Thanks. Our pasts are carried with us since they’ve shaped who we’ve become.

Who we are today shapes who we will be tomorrow . . . who we were yesterday is no longer of central relevance.

16. Piglet in Portugal - March 24, 2011

…the past is like heavy baggage weighing you down. Good memories hang on to, bad let go and learn from past mistakes, regrets do something about them if you can. Live for now; not easy with so much heavy baggage, but I’m working on it and gradually letting go and finding peace.

nrhatch - March 24, 2011

Yes, PiP. You’ve got it. 🙂

Win, lose, or draw, the past is what it is. It cannot be changed. Today. Today is where the dance of life takes place.

17. eof737 - March 24, 2011

Those horse teeth are embedded in my head… can’t quite shake it:-) But letting go of the past to move forward is imperative… I agree. Otherwise, it becomes a dis-ease. We are all a work in progress, pushing the past back and the present forward.
Danke Nancy! 🙂

Piglet in Portugal - March 24, 2011

Hi Elizabeth…I like your comment “we are work in progress” 🙂

nrhatch - March 24, 2011

Reminds me of that song by Chicago: Feeling stronger every day!

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