We cannot return to the past; we can only go forward.
I had that thought this morning, pondering my life, my career, my current state. But I think it is likely that both parts of that thought are untrue.
We can go back and we can go forward, always and sometimes obsessively, in our minds. We do a lot of both. Sometimes I spend a lot of time in one place or the other, and sometimes just waffling in between. Remembering, for example, my mother’s death, or then her life, and wondering how much of my memories of her are based on “reality” of actual events in the world, and how much based on the reality of my child’s experience. And then flipping into some future where I have written about my life, and made sense of it all. And then flopping to another new future where I leave therapy as a career and do nothing, nothing at all. Or write, but somehow make a living at writing. Or reshape my therapy practice so I focus on groups and have more free time, or then I wonder if I don’t really embrace some idea I have for work, well, then, will I die feeling incomplete???
The point is that I am returning to the past over and over. I am slipping into the future again and again. And when I spend my days in those places I miss being alive. I miss what is actually going on.
Where can I find a balance so that I am living my life here and now, and also creating a future that conforms to my desires? Oh, that’s a point….all of this time travel is usually about control. It is about my desire to control my future and my rage that I could not control my past. Aha, yes, indeed.
I wonder if acknowledging that I want to CONTROL my future will help me let go of that deep desire. Actually, I don’t really want to control the future….I just want the outcomes to be the outcomes I want. It reminds me somehow of the prayers I was taught as a child. I was taught to ask God to bless parents, friends, the dog, and to keep everyone safe and happy. Somehow I believed that my supplication would protect people and keep outcomes the way I wanted them. That’s a pretty long history of wanting to control how things work out.
Maybe all I can do right now is try to limit my time traveling. Here and now can be a pretty good place. It can also be boring, sad, angry, irritable and cold. But the more time I spend in the present, the more life I am getting in my life. I guess I’ll try for that.