by Carolyn Duval
It seems that we believe we are defined by our memories. All the moments of our lives are just shadowy images in our minds, but with a constant, nurturing attention they solidify and become bricks in the structure that we call us. Our determination to hold on to memories that are no longer relevant or real drives us to build a higher and stronger structure. This is a skill we have developed over years of practice. In the first moments upon awakening and the last moment before sleep we practice remembering who we are. We see our personal history like frames in a roll of film. We hear old conversations run through our heads, we savor the flavor of heartbreak, review arguments, disagreements, disappointments and betrayals – and we know ourselves. Fortified by these memories we start and end our days with familiar angers, in fears or anxieties. And somehow this feels safe to us.
It still surprises me to find myself peacefully drifting to sleep and – bam! A rush of emotion hits me and I am in distress. I have learned now to follow the emotion to the source, which is usually a belief or an old agreement. Then I make the choice that the belief will no longer define me and no longer have any power over me. This is an act of a warrior. This is conscious grace, and I am the only one who can offer that to myself. Not yielding to reflex responses, not having to define myself anymore, is the absolute key to my freedom. Once free from having to be me, it is love – the force of life – that guides me. It is a supreme act of personal power to choose to love myself, to wrap my arms around myself and be my own beloved. When the invitation to wallow in dark memories seductively whispers in my ear, I can say no thank you. Nothing has any power over me because I say so.
Our minds hold a great array of memories; some are very happy memories and some that have the power to cause us pain. It is important to notice how memory is as likely to cause fear in us as it is to warm our hearts. Commitment to the truth, not to lies, determines our ultimate happiness. Often it seems easier to feel like the victim, and to use memories as our best excuses to suffer. Seeing the past and the present without judgment, without an opinion, without a reaction, is to see with the indifferent and impersonal eyes of Life. We are those eyes, we are Life and all that Life sees and experiences.