Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Using the past

Do you look for life lessons in nature and other things around you? Are you intrigued with metaphor? I admit it's one place I find inspiration.

For example, yesterday I read the following in one of my favorite inspirational books, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo:

"The (chambered) nautilus ... builds a spiral shell, but always lives in the newest chamber. The other chambers, they say, contain a gas or liquid that helps the nautilus control its buoyancy. Even here, a mute lesson in how to use the past: live in the most recent chamber and use the others to stay afloat."

That image resonates with me because I have often felt that I've outgrown things from one stage of life and feel ready to move into a new stage or chamber. Perhaps it's ideas I've outgrown. Perhaps it's a job or an attitude. Or even a hobby. But I've found myself ready to move on. However, I have also noticed that I still use the lessons I learned from that past stage. And, of course, all those past experiences and former stages profoundly affect who I am today.

At the end of his daily reading, Nepo encouraged the reader to consider: "Is the past living in me, or am I living in this passage of the past?" Ah, interesting question. There really is a difference, isn't there? The past can live in you (and be used to "keep you afloat" as in the chambered nautilus) or you can live in the past—not a recommended way of life! You get to choose.

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