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The Shadows of Times Past June 29, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

IMGP3617bWhen we interact with friends, family, and casual acquaintances, memories of our shared history often creep into the “present moment.”

We don’t see who they are “now” without the view being just a bit obscured by the shadows of who they were “yesterday.”

* Fond memories forge a stronger bond, making us feel close.

* Less stellar memories of “bad behavior” may make us feel aloof.

When someone dies, memories linger ~ the shadows of times past.

We keep these shadowy legacies “alive” by bookmarking them with cherished photographs, letters, cards, and all manner of sentimental objects.

But, if we try to live in the shadows with these ghosts, life loses vibrancy and becomes clouded and tinged with gray.


The overlay of treasured memories occludes our view of today.  Instead of being Here, Now . . . we are There, Then.

And that is no place to be.


Step out of the shadows of times past.

Let the light shine!

In the NOW . . . you’ll find the NEW.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  The Treasure of Memories (Christine M. Grote)

Where are you most of the time?

Here, now . . . or there, then?

* * * * *

Artwork by Marlane Wurzbach ~ available at Marlane Wurzbach.com.


1. shreejacob - June 29, 2013

So true! Reminds me of the Ghostlands from Collette Barron Reid’s The Map. The land where we linger either in the shadows of the past or the wishful thinking of the future!
I feel the past is there, but in the now. In the me and you of the present and as long as the present us are well and good, then it really shouldn’t matter so much. However, watching the movie Side Effect (which is an awesome movie) Jude Law’s character says (I’m paraphrasing…overly I suspect) that our past behaviour predicts our future behaviour….hmmm…

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Thanks, Shree. I can’t help thinking that we would all do a bit better at this thing called “life” if we had selective amnesia. The bonds and memories we form with our companions (including the dearly departed) tend to tether us in place. We can bob about our mooring, but it’s hard to expand our reach when trailing an anchor.

shreejacob - June 29, 2013

I think I prefer letting go of the anchor than the amnesia thing Nancy..as it is we tend to forget stuff when we enter this world! hehehe

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

I see the anchor as the emotional tug of memories. Letting go of the anchor means letting go of the emotional duct tape that hold us back. :mrgreen:

nrhatch - August 25, 2013

We watched Side Effects last night . . . FANTASTIC film. Thanks for the recommendation!

shreejacob - August 27, 2013

Aha! Thanks for linking me back to the comment 😀 Glad you enjoyed it!!

nrhatch - August 27, 2013

Great film . . . I’ll be sharing it in a post soon.

2. Tammy - June 29, 2013

It’s funny, we have had so much change at the office that with humor, I now start most sentences, “in the olden days”. I need to get out into the now.

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

When I first shifted perspective from my old way of thinking (using Ego as the reference point) to a new way of thinking (using happiness as a barometer), I drew a line of distinction in the sand to differentiate and demarcate the change.

Now that line has blurred, but for a long time I said things like “in the olden days.” 😎

3. Pix Under the Oaks - June 29, 2013

I think I am pretty much in the “here” now with some happy memories of the past to talk about with a bit of worry always trying to force its way in. Hey, I’m workin’ on it.. 😀

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Worry does try to worm its way into our thoughts, eh? If we look too far past our headlights, it’s dark . . . and scary. 😯

I’m pretty good about ignoring the pull of the past. Most of the time. But lately I’ve been perusing mom and dad’s photo albums (which have found a home in our villa) and finding that even the happiest of moments and memories are tinged with sadness because “they are no more.”

4. Booksphotographsandartwork - June 29, 2013

So very true but I would imagine this is more difficult for a lot of older people.

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Especially if they develop the “habit” of being drawn into the past instead of living in the here and now.

But sometimes memory is the first thing we lose. I knew a woman who hung on to hurt and resentment with unparalleled tenacity. Until she developed senile dementia. At that point, she lost her past and could no longer use it as a frame of reference.

And she was HAPPIER than she’d ever been before.

5. SuziCate - June 29, 2013

Lovely post, Nancy. Today is a new day, aah…that’s better!

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Thanks, Suzi. The pull of the past can tug our heartstrings taut.

I’ve been spending hours flipping through my parent’s photo albums, resurrecting long forgotten memories. It’s been a real Pushmi Pullyu experience ~ from “happy it happened” to “sad that it is no longer.”

It always feels good to return to the NOW. Where the colors are vibrant in the land of the living. 😎

6. cecilia - June 29, 2013

I do miss having my old friends close by, no shared history so i am seriously right in the now! lovely post, have a goood weekend nancy! c

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Of course, you live in the NOW ~ when we are surrounded by animals and/or young children, they insist upon our present moment orientation and attention.

But wouldn’t it be FUN to have an enormous re-union attended by friends gathered far and wide? From our past, our present, and even, perhaps, our future.

7. Grannymar - June 29, 2013

I like to live in the now, with little dips into the past to the folk I loved and lost. The future? None of us are promised a future, but I do make plans for the near future, the rest can take care of itself!

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

Good attitude, Grannymar. I’m still immersed in the past as I sort through my parents’ photo albums. Should finish up the project tomorrow and return to the land of the living.

8. diannegray - June 29, 2013

I live in the ‘now’, Nancy, but love making plans for the ‘future’ whenever that may be! 🙂

nrhatch - June 29, 2013

It’s always good to have things to look forward to . . . like completing the RUC and throwing a House Warming party. 😉

9. Judson - June 30, 2013

I recently wrote and recorded a song I call “Selective Memory” which in many ways parallels your blog comments. Check it out if you have a moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPbUUB_-YKA

nrhatch - June 30, 2013

Sounds great, Judson. I expect we do tend to romanticize the past by recalling all the golden memories while overlooking the tarnished moments.

10. Colonialist - June 30, 2013

‘Live for today’ can, indeed, be the best maxim. One incorporates fond memories of the past and some plans for the future into that, but as part of the present.

nrhatch - June 30, 2013

Yes! It’s all part of the balancing act of life.

11. CMSmith - July 1, 2013

Thanks for the link, Nancy. When you have a husband, a dog, four children and two grandchildren, life itself pulls you forward.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Exactly right. There is no time to wallow in the past when “wee ones” are around and ready for a walk, or a story, or a snack, or a lullaby. 😀

12. Three Well Beings - July 1, 2013

There’s a lot to think about here, Nancy. I really enjoy your perspective about living with past and remaining in the present. I love the painting of the little girl with the gulls! That’s the perfect painting to have chosen for living in the moment, and with such joy!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Debra. That painting reminds me of the JOY that is only found in the present.

13. jannatwrites - July 2, 2013

Sometimes it’s fun to look at old (happy) photos with the kids. I don’t keep the ones that have bad feelings attached to them.

You are right though – it can be hard not to see people through the filter of the past. It’s done without even realizing it.

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

I love flipping through the photo albums with our nieces and nephews to show them some of the FUN stuff we did when they were Tiny Tots. 😀

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