Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Future Creates Its Own Past

It's universally accepted that the past helps to create, or at least shape, the present. There's a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins titled "The child is father to the man" that poetically captures the idea that what happens to us in earlier stages of our lives has a profound effect on how we deal with the events and feelings that we experience in the here and now.

This is one of the cornerstones of traditional developmental theory, the heart of all psychodynamic approaches to personal change and growth. By understanding and re-processing the past we are able to free ourselves from its crippling bonds, thus freeing us to experience a better future.

I'm a rational guy, so I firmly believe in this theory. It would defy logic not to agree that our past holds a powerful sway over our present and thus over our future.

But in addition, what if there is a second principle operating in our lives at this very moment? Events that happened in our past cause us to grow in important ways. Many of the most important changes we make at the deepest level of our being come as a result of dealing with the past. We are like iron that requires great heat and lot of hammering in order to be molded into something straight and strong. So it's not too much of a stretch to say that our future selves require a certain painful history to bring about our fullest unfolding as human beings.

From this perspective, therefore, it's possible to say that our future selves need for us to experience a certain history in order to reach our fullest potential.

Imagine your greatest, most evolved, wisest, most compassionate potential self laying a trail for you to find where it resides within yourself. That most realized future self would need to create a certain set of past influences to drive you toward the difficult, necessary and noble work of growth.

So does the past push us toward our most perfect future or does the future pull us forward toward it? A recent article in Newsweek, "Can The Future Leak Into the Present?", presents confirmatory evidence of this remarkable theory. According to this article, studies in the field of quantum physics demonstrate that "something that happens now is affected by something that happens in the future.....It suggests that the universe has a destiny—a destiny that is out there and coming back to us from the future."

Again, this is just a little imp of an idea to get you unstuck a little in your conception of what may be going on in your life at a deeper level and at this very moment. If it's too confusing, just let it go and remember that the past is history and the future is a mystery, leaving us only with this moment, which is a precious gift...that's why it's called "the present."

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