Let the past nurture the future

September 3, 2013

red white bloom

… the past is compost for the seeds of new stories… ~Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Oriah is an inspirational writer who gets to the heart of things, literally.  She speaks from her heart and to mine,  and her wisdom always resonates deeply.

A beautiful recent piece on her blog, The Green Bough, observed how the past generates the present and future. I sat at my desk in the predawn hours and contemplated how that works.

Our two choices are clear:  we can allow the past to be the fertile ground that nurtures our new stories. Or, we can stay mired in it, never moving forward, refusing to embrace growth and change.

The past is known. It’s safe and secure, even if it’s uncomfortable.  Stepping over the threshold into the dark unknown of a new story can be intimidating,

Like a lot of people, I have trouble letting go of the past. I like to keep everything and everyone tethered in some way, even if it’s lightly. They’re like touchstones.  Perhaps they reassure me that life is real, I don’t know.

This has served me in some ways. A big example is that if I hadn’t retained a relationship with M we would have never remarried.  Divorce and the passing of 27 years are a lot to surmount. And yet, the loose tether that bound us and the compost of our past allowed us to nurture a new story.

Or rather, we allowed it to happen. Conscious choice to have new ways of seeing one another.

Other times I’ve held on to the past long after it served me and I’m only now understanding how liberating it is to let go of things that do not support me.

My paternal family tradition is steeped in negativity and especially in shutting people out instead of embracing them.  I know the family script all too well, although I’m unclear exactly what the story is. I do know why some of us are doomed to repeat that dysfunction: we refuse to examine it and learn from it. Every single segment of my paternal family has continued this unhealthy pattern in almost a knee-jerk fashion, without considering what it means and whether it’s healthy.  Instead of allowing the past to nurture new stories, the old story continues, unquestioned.

New growth can not take hold in barren ground.  But if we allow the past to nourish the establishment of new stories, there’s no telling what joys could result.

Thank you, Oriah, for another thought-provoking morning.

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6 comments on “Let the past nurture the future
  1. Julie Phelps says:

    We need to spread this around, like a beneficial virus!

  2. It is often tough to discern what parts of our past we can learn more from, and when it is best to let it all go. I guess that is a small part of the wisdom-building process of aging.

    • admin says:

      I think we always know what to let go, we just don’t want to do it. At least that’s been my experience. With age we learn that it’s ok to jettison that stuff. Well, sometimes we do. I have been a real hard case, have to admit.

  3. I’m fond of saying that that I’m comfortable with my discomfort–it’s known and feels safer even when it’s dysfunctional. Thanks for the reminder about Oriah-I recall something of hers from years ago that really resonated.
    I am taking a look at some old patterns-ingrained from youth that have never served and now need to be erased…finally. But it’s hard. Danielle LaPorte’s most recent post is about Opening Up and it echoes some of what you say.
    Thank you–a pleasure, as always, to visit and read.

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