Consider this: What if we had no past? What if we were only operating with our short-term memory, and we woke up each and every morning, only to deal with the day that we have opened our eyes to? What if we lived each day without the memories of yesterday, or the distraction of tomorrow? Can you imagine how life might be different for you if you treated each day, and everything that it presents, as something entirely new?
Time and time again, we have been told to live in the present moment, as fully we are able. We are told to learn what we can from the past, to accept it, and to let it go. Likewise, we are told that there is no sense in worrying about the future, that tomorrow will take care of itself, that we should let it unfold as it may. And so this is true.
Most of us, it seems, are able to learn about ourselves and the world around us because of the things that we have lived through. We are continuously transforming and evolving, being molded not only by our past, but also by how we relate to it. In a sense, our past is something to be grateful for, no matter what is looks like, because it has helped create both who we are and the lives that we are living today.
Yet, spending too much time in the past can be a problem. When we relive each struggle, open each wound, and recount each moment of pain, we inhibit ourselves from moving on to more positive things. Similarly, we run the risk of underappreciating the beauty that we have when we cling to our glory days and compare our present state to the times that we remember with longing. Living in the past in such a way is a hindrance because it removes us from the here and now. It makes us miss out on what is happening in our lives today. And it may prevent us from enjoying things as they currently are, healing hurts that have happened to us in the past, and avoiding those that may be coming in the future.
Because our pasts are a part of us, it does matter. But perhaps it does not matter as much as we may think. Perhaps if we let go of some of our hurts and spend a little less time with the things that no longer need our attention, we may be better able to heal and grow, and tend to the things that need our attention in the here and now. Perhaps if we bring our awareness away from what has already happened, we may open up to this moment and fully embrace what is yet to come.