The mind will wander where it will. It will take you back to times that may have been happier. Traumas of the past may haunt you. Sadness born many moons ago may still dwell among newer ones.
The most frustrating thing about the past is that it cannot be changed. There is no time-travel machine that exists. We cannot undo past transgressions and mistakes, but what often happens is that we beat ourselves up about them long after they have happened. They become awkward bedfellows–spooning you comfortably with their familiar presence, but holding you a little too tightly.
There is a basic truth that I have come to know. If you keep your mind stuck in the past, then you will always live there, and any way that you look at it, living in those places for very long can undermine your efforts to be well and better in the present moment.
In my case, I grew up on a lush and breathtaking tropical island in the South Pacific Ocean called American Samoa. Do I miss the sandy beaches that border the glistening and warm turquoise water? Do I miss the thunderous sound of the ocean as waves dive willingly into the land? Do I miss the smell of ocean salt that is exhaled by the ocean’s breathing? Do I miss the tropical shades of green that adorn every corner of the island–in every swaying coconut tree and along every different color of hibiscus flowers?
Yes. I MISS IT ALL.
There is a part of me that wishes I could go back. It was the magical home of my childhood, and it feels like it was all a dream–a gorgeous deception my mind devised just to fool me.
However, in the present moment, I live deep in the hills of middle Tennessee. It is an entirely different landscape for the most part, and at first, it paled in comparison to what enchanted me as a child. Because I kept reverting to my past, I created an impossible standard that prevented me from appreciating what I have in the present moment.
Where I live now, my house resides deep in a hollow. Green hills rise steeply on all sides. Breezes ripple through the leaves of trees–moving in undulating waves across the treetops. There are trees everywhere. Birds of many varieties swoop and sing outside my window. In the absence of an ocean, a gentle fog blankets these hills in the early mornings, saturating the landscape with its richness.
This is my home in this moment, and it is so beautiful here.
Once in a while, my mind wanders back to my island of the past, but in this moment, I am embraced completely by the landscape of the present.
My past taught me to appreciate my surroundings. This is a lesson I put into practice to this day.
Is there a part of your past that keeps you from enjoying what you have in this moment?
This is a good question that is always worth asking.