Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

The Heaviness of History

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ~George Santayana

Oops! I did it again. ~Britney Spears

Many of us have caught ourselves at one time or another repeating a pattern or a mistake, and thinking, “I knew better. Why did I do that again?” Our history can teach us to make better choices if we learn from it.

However, our history can also be a burden that we carry with us, weighing us down with hurts that remain unforgiven, regrets that torment us, failings that shame us, roads not taken that tease us with fantasy. We sometimes base much of our identity on history in a way that confines us and limits us. We might identify with a difficult family dynamic, challenges we faced in school, relationships that ended, a cultural environment that expected us to conform. We can be trapped by the narrative of our life.

By the time we’ve gotten to a certain age, we have a lot of history to remember. I wonder if we can remember it and learn from it without dragging it behind us or being caged by it. Can we embrace the lessons as well as the gifts with gratitude, bless all our stories, and release them to the past so that we can liberate our present and future moments?

The only wholly true thought we can hold about the past is that it is not here. ~A Course in Miracles

6 thoughts on “The Heaviness of History”

  1. Mona McGinnis

    So true. When it comes to family history, it seems that we’re trying to live up to it or live it down. Then there’s the saying – what you don’t transform you will transmit. I choose to move forward.

    1. That is a great observation about family history, Mona! Combining that with your saying, what we don’t transform from family history, we transmit to the generations that follow. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Thank you, Galen. This parallels the “letting go” theme I am working with. Rather than dragging the past behind us, how do we let the gifts of the past liberate us.

    1. Yes indeed, Brian. I read your post today after I published this one yesterday. Don’t know if we have great minds (well, you do, but not sure about mine), but we are definitely thinking alike! Thanks for commenting.

  3. I must be a little unusual. I spend almost no time thinking about mistakes or regrets from the past. I really don’t have any to “release.” Rest assured there were plenty of decisions I wish I hadn’t made.

    It seems whatever lessons I learned have become ingrained in me so I focus on the present or what lies ahead without rehashing what is behind me. It is too much work to remember the bad stuff.

    1. That’s great Bob. What a perfect example of acknowledging decisions you might have made differently, and learning from them, but not dwelling on them. And you are right — remembering the bad stuff is exhausting! You are a great model for us all! Thanks for commenting.

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