Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Past Is Passed. I Let It Go.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

As I lie in bed this morning, I'm barely aware of the twinge in the back of my knee I first wrote about 11 days ago. That's the good news. The other news is that the pain has shifted to my backside.

My question this morning is: Do I return to the chiropractor?

Confronted with a similar pain 20 years ago, the me I was then would not have hesitated. He would immediately have called for an appointment.

It's not that I was a hypochondriac. I didn't make up symptoms. Nor was I extraordinarily anxious about my physical well-being.

I was a Fixer.

Whether it was my health, defective merchandise or a mistaken bank charge, it had to be set right without delay. If I broke or lost something, it had to be replaced right away.

That was one of the many unconscious ways I fed my perfectionism and controlled my environment, in the belief that such actions would keep me safe.

Another was to live beneath my means.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with sound personal finances. Yet my financial management style was more about fear and control than responsibility.

By paying off my credit cards in full each month, I avoided the disorder of finance charges and running balances. By not spending more than I knew I could repay in a given month, I maintained what, for me, was obsessively risk-free control over my financial life.

A clear advantage was that if something needed fixing, the funds were always available.

Again, there's nothing wrong with avoiding debt...unless the behavior is fear-based.

Mine was.

This is not a judgment. That's who I was then, which was an important stage in what I have become and am growing into becoming.

With marriage, parenthood and a move to Hawaii, certain things shifted.

Supporting a family on one income in Hawaii's high-cost-of-living zone meant that my finances were no longer quite so tidy. Yet we managed, even as bills weren't always paid in full and I became intimate with a new term: "payment arrangement."

My controls were, of necessity, being eroded.

When we moved from the Big Island to Maui in 2000, they dissolved altogether.

Despite my two jobs and sundry side gigs, we rarely met all our monthly expenses and were often late with those we could meet.

Having landed on Maui with perfect credit, I left two years later with none.

During that period, the Fixer was forced into retirement. Unless it was an emergency, all I could do was pray that the problem would fix itself. Funds were simply not available to do otherwise.

In the years that followed, that ingrained habit of lack stuck with me and spawned a new form of control: avoiding spending any money that wasn't absolutely necessary for fear that there wouldn't be enough.

That fear thing again.

The end of my marriage and my 15 months on the road began to bring things into a balance I had never truly lived.

First came the call to trust that I would be taken care of.

In those early months, with minimal income and no home other than motel rooms and the floors and spare bedrooms of friends, I lurched from day to day and week to week, never knowing how I would manage financially.

Every time I descended into fear and worry (frequently at the outset), I felt myself guided back to the present moment and to the fact that in that moment all was well.

All my guidance insisted that if I focused on my abundance of the moment, then tomorrow would take care of itself. As I found that focus, not always easily, tomorrow was always fine. To my wonder and relief, I never lacked for any necessity and no bill went unpaid.

Slowly, gingerly, I began to expand. Hotels instead of spare rooms...then better food...then better hotels. Somewhere in there, a new computer materialized, then a new car. Gas prices skyrocketed, and still I managed. I began paying for my daughter's school, and still I managed.

I managed by continuing to surrender to the present moment. I managed by relinquishing layer after layer of control. I managed by trusting that I would be supported, and then watched in awestruck wonder as miracles continued to unfold.

Then one day, a credit card offer arrived in the mail. This wasn't the usual, high-interest, high-fee, credit-repair offer I had been receiving for over a year. This was a low-interest, no-fee offer from a real bank. I applied and, amazingly, was approved.

Once the card found its way into my wallet, it remained there, all shiny bright...and virginal. My Maui experience had been so scarring that I was afraid to use the card.

And then I saw it for what it was: An opportunity to relieve myself of yet another layer of control and come into a healthier balance.

I realized I wasn't the same person I had been - either in Toronto in the '80s or Maui in 2000.

I realized that I was being given an opportunity to transform the past and live in a state of discernment I had never before experienced.

As I write these words, I'm interrupted by a phone call. It's a client. She has just rear-ended another car and we talk about how important it is to not live in the past, to accelerate forwards not backwards.

Which brings me back to the chiropractor.

I realize after our impromptu phone session that my message to my client is the one my sore butt is sending me: Don't live in the past.

This month for me has been one of much letting go - of who I thought I was, of where I thought my work was going, of how I thought I would be financially supported.

Yet even through the letting go, I have been trying to figure out my future based on my past.

Trying to figure out anything through this time has probably been pointless. Basing it on the past has definitely been pointless.

In 1989 American philosopher Francis Fukuyama published an essay titled "The End of History?" Whatever Fukuyama's thesis, his title is apt. The past is irrelevant. Each moment is a new life based not on the actions of a no-longer-existing energy but on the requirements of the now.

There's a coronation scene in my novel, The MoonQuest, where all the old ruler's robes and raiment are burned before the new king is crowned, that he might chart his own way. "The past is passed. We let it go," the crowd chants through this ritual.

I recall this mantra and Fukuyama's title as I focus on the message my body is sending me.

I recall it too as I contemplate how the new me can best respond.

When I saw the chiropractor two weeks ago, I allowed myself to transcend a past that empowered scarcity. It was an important honoring of my body. It was also an important honoring of my inherent abundance. That was reinforced when I returned for a second visit two days later.

Today, the call - whether in terms of my back, my finances or any temptation to fix and control - is discernment.

There is no black-and-white. There is no historically based determination. There is simply this moment and its requirements, which may differ from those called for by the next moment.

There is no guarantee that today's right answer will work tomorrow. Chances are it won't.

Today is tomorrow's past and I must be prepared to let it go, if that is where my discernment carries me.

I remember this as I ponder my sore backside and determine that in this moment, my wisest course of action is to heed its message and wait.

I remember that, too, as I ponder my next direction and recognize that listening and waiting is my wisest course there as well.

There is no past. There is only this moment...the opportunities of this moment, the wisdom of this moment.

The past is passed. I let it go.


AnnieM said...

Dear Mark,
You seem to be going through exactly what I am going through. I guess you are my teacher of sorts of this moment. As I see my own fears and insecurities reflected in your words.
I am scared to death when I look to the future and wonder who will take care of me and where will the money come from. I have no retirement-with four part time jobs there is no security.
Thanks again for sharing. It makes my path a little easier to know there are others walking that path too

Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Annie,

All you can do — all any of us can do — is surrender to the higher power that is the God That You Are and trust that, as you heed its guidance and follow its lead, you will be supported and taken care of...even if it's not always in ways that your human self would prefer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark:

So many sources have been saying to me this year to live in the present moment. It is a beautiful lesson and a continual exercise and shifting of the state of my consciousness. I seem to be getting my mind quieter. It is the thoughts that are fear based that instigate the emotions that drag down and impair my well being and pyhsical health and energy.
Sweet surrender to the fullness, peace and joy of the present moment brings a corresponding vitality.
My journey with prostate cancer the last year has been such a teacher. I can worry that as I leave my job and travel accross the country, even though I am so gratefully in "remission" from three weeks of low-dose chemo and other treatments in a hospital in Mexico, there is the fear thought that at any time the cancer could come roaring back and I could end up in hospice and on my way to the light. I have this possiblity to live with for the rest of my life, but do I let fear and worry rob me of all the goodness that my new lease on life has given me, even if I may only have weeks or months of good health left?
I intend to be and do and say that which is of the highest, purest light and intention and see where it leads me.
So your words continue to speak to me and inspire me to be faithful and to trust the universe with the precious time in this body on this beautiful earth.



Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Joe,

I hope you had a chance to read my response to your comments on my March 18 posting. I'm struck again by your courage in choosing to follow your heart rather than your fear. I'm deeply moved that you find my words and experiences helpful to you. Know that yours, too, are helpful to me and to all with whom you share them.

Many blessings on your journey,
Mark David