Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward. So if life can be only understood backwards but must be lived forward – where does the present fit in? This question has been one that I have recognised as one of the greatest personal explorations.

I was told as a child to look forward, never really taught the essence of stillness or presence. As a young adult, my teachers would say, ‘You’ve got so much ahead of you’ yet the past behind kept creeping into my future. The doubts, the critic, the judge. These past ideas, thoughts and beliefs had me locked down and locked in.

With nowhere to go, I became a chameleon, always shifting with current popular opinion. To fit in was my biggest aim. To hold a position, without understanding what that was, without truly understanding how my past was my undoing. For, how can I create my future without understanding the shadow aspects of my personality? To learn how to forgive myself for errors, so that I could make true progress at creating my life?

With no direction, my compass made no sense. So I floated between ideas and thought patterns, always watching and learning from others but never truly finding the core of MY own opinions and beliefs.

 Tess sitting outside in a forest journaling


Then to learn how to express my thoughts, believing in them and journaling. But, what I re-read was still filled with the past. 

Today I look forward to the challenge. The past as much as possible, no longer defines me. I still cringe inwardly at some error of thinking, a choice made, a conversation with a loved one that did not turn out so well. And, I have learnt that to be in the moment allowing for deeper change and insight.

If I slow everything down and move into the present moment I find a new voice, a straight talking wise woman. She startles me sometimes with her conviction. Her expressive power is strong, intense. A little too much, and I’m not sure if I should release her into the world. After all, I have been careful about that side of me. The passionate, intensely emotional part of me. I have been called ” too much” too many times. You are far too “passionate”. “You come on too strong”. 

These wild waves of emotion, the heights which frighten me, the depths which threaten to swallow me up whole. I need to find how to ride these waves. Be comfortable in the storm. 

We are not defined by the storm I realise – we define it.

And so, as I move forward with a deeper respect for this inner woman, the too much or too deep parts of me become more comfortable to sit with. To see all these aspects of myself, like a smorgasbord of events, feelings and situations. There for me to observe, pick up and admire, smile ruefully at, or take away with me as a treasured reminder of who I am. That I am all these parts and more. 

In sitting with and understanding my past I see a kaleidoscope of potential experiences and tragedies. Do I take all of this with me into my future? 

Yes, I do. 

But the essence of it all, the heart’s blood of my past no longer defines me as a creative ONLY shaped by what has occurred.

I now have choice in the present moment.  And I choose to keep it all.