Honouring the Past – The Stories of Our Lives

If you use the Hijr calendar, you would be a very small minority, but you would also know that today is New Year’s Eve according to that calendar.  I live somewhere in the intersection of a few worlds, so I take notice and honour a few calendars.  Of course, on New Year’s Eve according to the Gregorian calendar, just like most of the world (up until this year at that is), I have spent New Year’s Day in a slightly hazy state, if you know what I mean.  The Hijr New Year however, has always been a very quiet affair for me. Apart from the years in primary school when I would be in the Muslim choir group (just to add to confusion, I was also in the Christmas choir group), this time has always been for me, a time of meditation and quiet.

Today as I am contemplating future meditations and the solar eclipse this morning, I am also thinking about the past.  Yes, I know the past is just a memory and all that, but the past, no matter how dark and ominous, is what has brought us here today.  While we know that holding on to the past and the continuously blaming that past for all our screw ups keeps us from moving forward, what about paying homage to the past?

A lot of self-help books, articles and blogs will speak about letting go of the past, that’s true, but I am starting to wonder about society and the rush to run away from the past.  What’s the difference, you ask? Well, letting go denotes acknowledging and respecting, and then releasing while what I see, and indeed have done myself is just to walk away from it, thinking that by doing so, I will be able to release the pain.

I know the world is moving fast and if we don’t move along with it, time won’t wait, and I know that I am not getting younger, but don’t you sometimes think that we move too fast?  The best way to demonstrate this is probably in relationships.  As a person, I am not very patient, so in the past, my style has always been to rush things.  No sooner had one thing ended, I would put myself “out there,” for a fling, a relationship or whatever it was that would come my way.

Somewhere in my mind, I thought that the drunken nights passing out in tears on my pillow blaming God, country and such and such’s mother for producing such was homage enough.  And I suppose for some it was, but the thing with relationships is that each one, no matter how testing, brings us to another place.  It is the same with our jobs, our friendships and even our living arrangements.

The past is a funny thing. Sometimes it can drag you in and you end up staying there for hours.  Sometimes, the feelings invoked are just so hard that it is you who closes the door and walks away.  On days when your world is dark, it acts as your own little reserve of sunshine.  Sometimes you go through it again and again and again wondering what went wrong or what you did wrong, and at other times you see it just as it is, a mere memory. Sometimes we choose to hit the “delete” button on certain parts because there of a love lost, or a friendship gone sour.  It is this big reel of shadow and light.  For some, the past is dull and grey, but for others, the past is a place of vibrant colour.

If we live in the past too much, we cease to move.

Deny it and we never learn.

It is up to us to find that balance.

We move on, as we will, and time moves, as it must, but why not, as we make our resolutions for the future, take a moment to honour the past, not just the good and pleasant, but also the shadows and dark places.

What good is a story without the contrast of day and night.

Without the night, how would we appreciate the day as we do?

Without the chill how would we appreciate the heat as we do?

Every past is part shadow and part light, just like we are, and tomorrow, today too will be part of the past.

So tonight, perhaps honour both the shadow and the light in equal parts, breathe it in, and then exhale and instead of forcing ourselves to let go, perhaps it’s best to just let it be.

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