The Shape of the Past

The Shape of the Past September 18, 2019

Our pasts are as complicated as our present. Maybe even more. What we have been through forms and shapes who we are. The relationships around us inform our perspective and our values.

The shape of the past is like a mold. It shows us boundaries, consequences for crossing those boundaries, and the parameters for truth. What we have been through communicates to us how the world works. For better or worse, it establishes patterns in our lives. It sets up a specific worldview.

Yet, our molds are not definitive. They are jelly molds. We can move them. We can reshape them. Our experience informs our perspective but does not dictate it. We are influenced but not shackled.


Repetitive Narrative

We love stories with good guys and bad guys. Friends and enemies. Heroes and villains. The past shapes our perspective on who is included in each of these lists. Not just people, but ideas. What is shameful? What is honorable? Our experience teaches us how to define these things.

Those definitions help shape our values. And establish a desired culture.

We hear these stories over and over again. Confirmation bias kicks in. We start to see what we are looking for. And soon unhealthy patterns can form. If we are not careful, we create a perspective that is not based on reality, or grounded in truth. We find ourselves believing a false narrative.


Strained Choices

The good news is that today’s choices become tomorrow’s past. Said another way: we are not done growing. What we do now, the relationships we are in, and the experiences we have will inform what we perceive in the future. Our perspective is not beyond redemption. It is being reshaped and/or reinforced every day.

The great epiphany, the turning point of a human journey, is when we see the ways in which our patterns are not working. We see consequences we didn’t expect. We don’t receive the promises advertised by the lie. And life becomes strained.

A strained life is not a bad life. It is not a failed (or even failing) life. A strained life is a beautiful opportunity. To evaluate. To discover truth. To create new patterns.

The trajectory of our lives is a strong pull of mass and energy. But it is not beyond repair. Our past has a shape. But so does our future. And they needn’t be exactly the same. The whole point of the human journey is to grow, to discover, to expand.

Our pasts, no matter how messy, have set us up to grow. They have established a foundation. Whether we were spoiled or abused, affirmed or rejected, our pasts are a reality we have to come to grips with. A truth we have to appraise.

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