“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe, from her 1976 autobiography Georgia O’Keeffe …
We all have our histories that can be easy to get caught up in, however, we are not our past selves–we are who we are right here and now. It is true that the person we once were adds many elements and characteristics to us, just as the many hues, brush strokes, and canvases upon which artists paint, add depth, style, and meaning to their work. But it is not the colors, patterns, and mediums that we should be captivated by… it is what we have done with those things–the masterpiece that lies before us–that should fascinate us and speak to our souls.
Although our past has very little to add to our life experiences today, we often talk about these things in lieu of their results. But it is the effects, not the causes, that define who we are as a person and where we are at this specific juncture in lives. It is, of course, important that we put forth some effort to maintain the past–relationships, skills and abilities, knowledge and understanding, and anything that adds value to our lives or invokes a sense of pride that serves as a reminder of what is wholesome and good–but we must never do so at the sake of fulfilling all that is required of us and completing our necessary tasks at hand.
Our history is a part of us, and always will be. But when we attempt to spend our present moments in the past, we relegate ourselves to mere bystanders. Live fully in the here and now. Remember that who you are in life, and who you are becoming, depends entirely on how you use the experiences that you have gained from your past. Did you learn and grow from them, allowing them to expand your horizons and better yourself?
Reflect on past experiences to find potential areas in which you might uncover growth and learning.
Questions to consider:
Why do we seem not to focus on what we have become through our past experiences, and what we might become from our future experiences?
What have been some of the most influential experiences in your life? How have they affected your life?
How can the places you have lived have positive effects on your life?
For further thought:
“It does not matter where you have been. What matters is who you have become. Who you are. Here. Now.” ~ unattributed