Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Past, Present, and Future

You don’t know when it happened.
You know something changed, but you can’t put your finger on what it is that’s no longer the same.
You know this isn't the way it used to be, but you don’t really remember what life looked like before.
The change snuck up on you.
And it caught you, and spun you around, and confused you.
But it didn't register at the time.
You didn't realize what had happened.
There was a delayed reaction.
So the change seemed gradual.
And then one afternoon, in the middle of a perfectly normal day, it hit you.
Suddenly nothing is the way it once was.
And you don’t know when it happened.
But now you’re here, in this chaotic world that reminds you of another life, your past life.
You know that this life is reminiscent of the past, but the past is some far-away world you can’t seem to see clearly.
Your past is a collage made up of memories and moments.
But your head is so muddled that you can’t bring them into focus.
Because when you look at your past, it doesn't seem real.
That collage confuses you.
And sometimes you can’t remember which part of it is real, and which part is only a leftover fragment of a long-forgotten dream.
It’s only when you look at it closely, like a child with their nose pressed up against the glass that shields some precious treasure, that you realize the significance of your past.
You see what was real, and what lingers on in your memory as a shadow of some abandoned fancy.
And the more you see your past for what it really is, the more you come to realize that it’s not so different from the present.
Change occurred.
Just like it always does.
Either it eased into your life without attracting attention, or it smacked you across the face and sent you reeling.
But even though change makes your past and your present seem miles distant, and worlds different, it is not always so.
Because the one thing your past and your present always have in common is you.
You change, slowly or suddenly.
But you are always you.
And even a glance at your past reveals who you were then.
And a good look at your present can show you who you are now.
The difference seen between your past and your present scares you.
You’re scared by how easily everything can change.
You’re scared by how easily you can change.
And so you look closely at that collage again, and you realize that it is the changes that confuse you, and make the whole of it seem blurry.
But then you step back, and let the big picture sink in.
And you realize that the change is what makes the collage – the picture of your past flowing into your present – so beautiful.
Your past was responsible for shaping your present, just as your present is responsible for shaping your future.
You will always change, but if you’re smart, you will never fully leave the past behind.
Your past was once your present, until something changed.
And your present will become your past, because change is always taking place.
And change may make the past feel unfamiliar, but you can’t be so afraid of it that you run away when it threatens to take place.
Because you can’t get to your future without change.

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