Essential Topics

The Past

Is the past real? I was driving home from Gainesville, FL, to Pensacola once when I realized that the past isn’t really real. I was listening to a lot of Eckhart Tolle at the time, so I guess that had something to do with it (see Resources)… I laughed a deep, hearty laugh and it was awesome. Most people would try to lock me up for saying such a thing like the past isn’t real, but when you really check it out, I’m pretty sure it’s true. Remember that I’m a very logical guy, a former math teacher, who puts his beliefs aside and then researches things. So let’s take a look…

My claim is that the past lives now in our memory, which is thoughts/beliefs. Those memories have feelings associated with them, so there’s a feeling component as well. These feelings live now, though, mainly when we are reminded of the event. There might be a physical component as well, like a scar from when you got stitches on your knee, but if so it only lives now. So we have memories of the past along with any accompanying feelings and physical marks, all of which can only live now. So is the past real? Hells no – it all lives now and only now. Nobody has gone to the past. Nobody can touch the past. It’s nothing more than a concept that we’ve made up. When you see that it lives now, you can do something about it. You deal with thoughts and feelings just like I’ve talked about all over this blog. Are the thoughts 100% true? Remember that 99.999% doesn’t cut it. If they aren’t true, pitch them. And feel the feelings without a story, without words, without thinking (see How Feelings Work). Just feel them. Regarding the physical, if there’s something you have to deal with or take care of then deal with it or take care of it. That’s all. The scar on my knee just sits there, so there’s nothing to be done. When I cut my knee as a kid, though, I had to get stitches at the time. I dealt with it. Actually, the nearest adult dealt with it – thanks!

Since memories are the main place where the past lives, let’s take a closer look at how trustworthy they are. This is huge. When I think about something from the past, I basically tell a story about what happened. Well, this story sure doesn’t seem to be etched in stone. For one thing, it changes depending on how I feel when I’m telling the story. If I tell the story twice, then there are two versions of the story that aren’t exactly the same. Sometimes the versions are closer than other times, but we need exact for the past to be considered real! (We have high standards here at The Blog for what gets to be called real). Versions also change with time. Some stories are even forgotten. This sounds like the shifting sands as opposed to the rock. Stories change. Where do they come from? Memories. I sure wouldn’t want to put much stock on memories after examining them as we have just now…

Another way to look at it is if you and I experienced something together in the past. When we tell the story, we might see that we have different versions of it. This can be pretty hilarious, really. It speaks to the filter of our mind as well (see The Filter). Sometimes the versions are incredibly different, especially when lots of time has passed. You might hear my version of what happened and think, “Was he even there?? That’s not how it happened!”

So the past is like the shifting sands and not the rock. It’s definitely not something to rely on. Another way of saying this is the the past really is not real. It’s quite liberating when you get used to it. You focus on how it affect you now. That’s the only way you can do anything about it and finally have more peace.,