Erase your past

The past does not exist.
This is what Jennifer has been telling me lately.
“Let go your past.”

When you let go your past, you’re letting go of everything that is in your past. You’ll be letting go of the anxiety, the stress, the suffering, the confusion, the abandonment, the disappointment.

The joy that you believe is in your past isn’t in your past at all.

All the good things that have happened in your past – the moments of triumph, the times when you were in love, when you were happy, when you experienced joy and laughter, the times when you felt safe – they are always with you. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, get rid of them.

The joyful things don’t belong to your past, they belong to your now. They’re your life force, your light, your energy field – your true self. All the rest is a dirty overcoat, which is trying to keep you in the past.

When you’re young, you have no past. You have yet to accumulate those things that will later try to keep you in the past – those things that you’ll dwell on: the mistakes, the failures, the rejections, the humiliations.

They’re yet to hobble you. So you can achieve things unfettered. Without thinking about the past. Without the spectre of failure, personal humiliation, rejection.

Later in life, the past inhabits you.
It inhibits you.

“Oh I can’t do that because last time I tried that, I failed.” or… “We’d better not take that financial risk because we tried that once before and we lost everything.” or… “things never worked out last time I tried that…”

The past can be insidious. In later life it can bring you to your knees. It can cripple you. The past can leave you old. And bitter. And cynical. It can leave you so moribund with fear you can’t get off the couch and step outside the house.

We all get stopped by our life. We all get reminded of our past.

But what if we erased our past? What if we were young again? What if we began to think like we thought when we were 26 years old. When nothing could stop us. When everything was possible…

What if we were unstoppable again? What if the past did not exist – and everything was fresh and new and possible again? Back then there were no barriers. There were no fears. There was only ever opportunity, which we took, brazenly.

We can step out of that dirty overcoat, and take on the bright shiny mantle of “now.”

But first we just need to let go of our past.

rocks and sunset

35 thoughts on “Erase your past

  1. Thanks, Jennifer (through Bill – and I LOVE that photo!). You’re so right and it’s so not easy (necessarily) to do. At times I just need to re-read ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ (by Mitch Albom) and it falls into place again 🙂


  2. Hi Bill and Jen – just last week I was at a book talk given by Ailsa Piper and Monsignor Tony Doherty which focussed on this exact subject. Ailsa used the analogy of ‘scars’ (the bad stuff) from our lives to illustrate her point. It was very powerful. THIS IS TOO. You’ve both given us all something very special – thank you.


  3. One of the joys of aging is an increased appreciation of each new day and a decreased concern about what has gone before. You realize you will never be the smartest, cutest, richest girl on the block so deal with it and celebrate what you’ve got – today: a healthy body, a love of adventure, supportive family. Fear is as harmful as regret. Get over it. Take your vitamins, eat the damn kale, keep moving, hang out with positive people. I’ve found the “September (or October or November ) of My Years” isn’t so bad. It bests the alternative;-)

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  4. That old cliche that the past is gone and the future never comes is so very true. Living in the past is like going through life with shackels. We are products of the sum total of our past life experiences, but none get a redo. Today is all we have, regardless of what we think. Live in the NOW. Simple but not easy. 😦


    • It’s a fascinating concept Lynda isn’t it. Think like you thought when you were 26 years old. There’s a lot of good sense in that! Bill


  5. Wow. This is so strange. I was talking just last night about this with a friend. I’m facing making some life changes and don’t want to deal with the agro. He said that everything up to now was just in my memory bank and that I shouldn’t let that influence my “now”. I am in awe that your post on this came at just such a time.

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    • Hi Donna. I had to re read this post and check what time it was sent to make sure it wasn’t me that put it here. This same thing happened to me. Going through some big changes and a good friend told me the same thing. Let go of the past and live in the now. Good luck with your changes.



    • I was always confused by Back to the Future Lynda – 🙂 I guess you’re right. We leave on a Friday and we get in on a Friday. I love that about coming to America!! Not long now till we meet up with you and Dale! Bill

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  6. Great post, Bill! Tell Jennifer that I think she is brilliant. I haven’t read something like this that “hit home” in quite awhile. You have given me much to reflect upon. Thank you both! Hugs and safe travels. Julie

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  7. I’m with you on this philosophy, but have had to wrestle a bit with the application beyond the abstract. In my mother’s last year, she was so occupied with memories of the past, and with the stewardship of “things” that had been saved in the family for 100 years. Things that have no other value than that they had been preserved for 100 years. What am I to do with my grandmother’s dental x-rays from 1920? Or a school notebook from 1930? Or an art pad of mediocre sketches? We even have a notebook of accounts from about 1750! It has driven me to preserve less of my own stuff and seem callous in my disinterest in family memorabilia. But here is my question: How do you reconcile the keeping-of-history with the letting-go-of-the-past? Just sayin..!
    – Clare

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    • Clare,

      I see no conflict in what you are describing. I think there is a huge difference in remembering the past and saving mementos from the past and living in the past. That, to me, is not living in the past. To me, living in the past means that one can not fully live in the present because of the past. My best personal example is that I lost my wife of 21 months in a tragic accident 15 years ago. I think of her fondly and often, but I moved on with my life. I look forward to seeing what today brings, and that is about as far ahead as I look. I try not to let my past influence my present except hopefully, I have learned from mistakes. You might have heard me say that I also try to live without expectation, and that leaves an open canvas for the future that will be painted each day as I move forward in life. I have no idea what the finished canvas will look like, nor do I concern myself with it. It is enough for me just to manage each day the best I can. Hold onto those mementos and memories, but do not let them control who you are today. Also, remember, we have no control over our memories. Like feelings, they just appear but they do not have to consume us.

      Just my take on your remarks, which really made me think. Thank you. Steve


      • Thanks for the thoughts. What you say is true. Each of us needs to maintain a comfortable balance and healthy perspective on the “competing” elements! I felt that my mother (whose early story was very complicated) was excessively bound to her past. She could have been liberated by a bit of Jen’s philosophy. I have been working through these thoughts in recent months. Need a good Camino!


    • Hi Clare, I can now only speak for myself, and not for you or others. I had a similar situation. I loved my father more than I can put into words here. He was perhaps my greatest influence. I was in Paris the day he died. I always called him on a Sunday morning, wherever I was in the world. I called him that Sunday morning, then I went to the Notre Dame, went to Charles de Gaulle, flew back to New Orleans, and when I landed I was told he had died. I must have spoken to him only hours before he passed.

      When it came time to dividing up his belongings, I wanted none of them. I didn’t care. A week later I flew back from New Orleans to Australia, and attended his funeral. I wasn’t interested in the will, in the division of possessions. He had given me everything I needed during his life.

      I see families split over the allocation of possessions after a family member has died. Families fight and bicker and feud over these possessions of a gathered loved one. Sometimes these enmities and feuds can last a lifetime. For me, it’s silly. Who cares? Photographs perhaps are important, but what does it matter who keeps them? As long as they are kept.

      I don’t even know where my father’s ashes were dispersed. I don’t care. I have from him what is most important. His influence. His love, during his time within this plane of existence.

      I speak from my own personal experience here, and it’s probably not relevant to you. But I don’t feel I can give you advice on your own circumstances. I don’t feel I have that right. I just hope that what I have told you here might help…


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      • Thanks for the comment. I hasten to add that my 3 siblings and I have had no acrimony at all and this experience has been entirely supportive and positive! That is very satisfying. – Clare


        • Hi Clare – that’s good to hear. The same in my family. There was no squabbling over stuff.

          I guess the point of my previous post was to do with the past in terms of emotional and spiritual baggage. The things we carry with us from our past. Not material goods.

          Sometimes the best way to honour or remember those we love who have been gathered is to cherish something of their’s that’s still of this world. I see no conflict there… Bill


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