Bringing in the new: Leaving behind the negative past


I saw these statues of Kuan Yin and the Buddha last week while Jack and I were on his birthday trip. They were at The Women’s Exchange (a great thrift store in Williamstown, MA). Looking at these figures, with their peaceful smiles, does something to me inside. They are good reminders of a higher, deeper reality. They are also new energy in my home….reminding me to focus on what I am creating in the moment, which will end up being my future.

When I first met Jack, he had lots of pictures of Native American warriors on his walls. These were really strong powerful images but they had a harshness about them that made me avert my eyes. It was like being surrounded by dozens of angry grandfathers! I kept trying to rationalize that it was OK saying, “Well, I have a pretty stong Abenaki lineage, and love Native American art”, (which was, and is, still true). But I did not feel good when I looked at those images. We finally took them down, and Jack brought them to his shop.

Several years ago, I went through all of my photographs and when I found ones that reminded me of an unhappy time, or pictures that I just plain did not like, I threw them out. It was, at first, a huge challenge. I had some of them for all of my life and even though I didn’t feel good when I looked at them, I believed that it was somehow my obligation to hold onto them. We cannot move into new, larger and more expansive futures if we hold so tightly to our hurtful, negative stories/images of the past.

The images that we surround ourselves with do affect our bodies, minds and spirits. I personally need all of the help that I can get staying positively focused!

“There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art or knowledge.” Friedrich Nietzsche

14 thoughts on “Bringing in the new: Leaving behind the negative past”

  1. after 20 years a ‘friend’ and I had a serious falling out. no longer angry but she’s a toxic person, so we are done. so many pictures over the years, with the girls, did a lot of things together, but I got so annoyed with her in them, so being a mature grown up person i cut her head out of all of them! very theraputic and now the pictures are enjoyable on so many levels…this may sound childish but I eliminated the bad part and kept the good…..

    1. I did this once with a photograph of myself and an old boyfriend (that my sister had in collageon her wall). I cut out his head and put in the head of someone else (a movie-star of the time I think…cannot remember)…It made me laugh until I cried…still makes me smile! Thank you Hope for sharing this creative way to change our pasts!…it can be fun too?!!

  2. It is interesting – what we hold onto – both physically and emotionally – that define us Mary. Why do we choose these things? – On second thought, it’s probably not important and ruminating about the whys may be just another way to avoid moving forward… It is true that “what I create in this moment becomes my future.”

    I have a fortune cookie fortune that I carry around with me. It says:
    Any idea seriously entertained tends to bring about the realization of itself.

    I need constant reminders of this topic Mary – Thanks so much for putting this on the front page today! ox

    1. Thank you Lynne! I heard someone say once, “What you are doing/being/having in your life right now is not who you are, it is who you were. You are, in this present moment, the creation of all of your past thoughts and actions. Change your thoughts and actions now, and your future will become the new also”.

  3. You are so right about this Mary. I’ve held on to too much stuff from the past, like you say, a feeling of obligation. I shall take the bull by the horns so to speak, and begin a clear out! Thanks for inspiring me to get this done!

  4. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to surround ourselves with things that make us feel good, or laugh, or smile, or feel happy! How much better we would feel.
    You are right!
    I think we would be healthier too.

  5. Nothing like a good housecleaning, that really deep kind when we actually end up throwing out things that either no longer serve us (fit us, ha ha) or have unpleasant memories. And we do become lighter in every way. Years ago I copied these two wonderful sentences from a book by Barbara Kingsolver (sorry, I don’t recall which one) and I have always kept it in my purse to keep me in check when deciding if that pretty little trinket is something I really ‘need’ or is it just a ‘want’? Mind you, nothing wrong with pretty little trinkets, – but these two lines made a deep impression on me. Here they are:

    “WANT is a thing that unfurls, unbidden like fungus, opening large upon itself, stopless, filling the sky.

    But NEEDS, from one day to the next, are few enough to fit into a bucket, with room enough left to rattle like brittle brush in a dry wind.”

    Thanks Mary for a wonderful nudge to lighten up, to free ourselves from things we have accumulated that if painful in any way, only serve to keep us tied to the past.

  6. Another illuminating observation, Mary. I had an interesting experience upon seeing a 15-20 foot tall sculpture of Kuan Yin at the Boston Museum of Fine Art a few years ago. It was my first visit to the museum (one which reminded me of something Maria Wulf said about how uncomfortable I was made to feel with such pretentious staff and security). And then I walked into the hall where Kuan Yin was so dramatically the focal point.
    She took my breathe away—literally! My knowledge of Buddhist philosophy was rudimentary then but I knew she was the goddess/teacher of compassion.And this stone masterpiece radiated an energy of warmth and love unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I sat down on a bench for a very long time, just drawing in this ‘essence’, for lack of a better description, and tears of joy were streaming down my face.
    That’s when security was sent to check on me. I was moved beyond words but I guess they don’t like it when you gush on their marble floors!! I felt a bit silly but I remained for awhile longer, smiling back at her warm visage. Such powerful reminders really do affect our lives for the good; I’ll never forget my date with Chinese antiquity!

  7. Boy, Mary. Your posts hit all the relevant buttons, so to speak, lately.
    I ventured into my Grandmother’s old trunk just a few days ago and went thru old family photos I had kept in there from my past childhood on a farm in the Midwest.
    Haven’t ventured into those photos for years.
    The memories they churned up made me feel like throwing out the whole bag out just to be done with it.
    Instead I mourned for the little girl in those photos that was smiling for the camera…got angry, bitched, and cried some (scaring my poor cat Fitz who went running up the stairs), mourned for the animals that I wish I had taken better care of, but couldn’t as a child, then took out a few photos and placed them on a shelf to remind me how far I have come.
    And I sent lots of love out to those past creatures who were my pals and companions on the farm, who got me thru lots of tough times.
    For me, mourning for what could have been helps me to put things in perspective…and gets the butt in gear to remember that you can choose to create a happier future.

  8. I forgot to mention.
    I found photos of a past boyfriend in that trunk too, that I had thought I had long ago had torn up and tossed to the fire.
    Amazing…after 20 years to be able to look at his face and just be sooooooo happy I didn’t marry the dude!

  9. I have nothing so eloquent to say except I love you all. Thank you for watering my soul today.

  10. I am in awe of all these comments. It is such a privilege to read these revealing, touching, thoughtful, insightful, generous, contemplative, meaningful posts. I am grateful.

  11. The process of letting go and letting in is so much a part of everything to do with life. If we try to hold our breath to control the moment-it never works- life just keeps breathing in and out right through us anyhow.

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