“Life can only be understood backward; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard
When I look back over the many years of my life, I’m amazed at how much has changed in our society and in my life. I went to school in segregated schools until the Sixties when I entered college. I knew the first black woman to live in the college dorm. In those days when I was majoring in theater, the gay guys who were my friends didn’t want me to know they were gay. Although we all knew they were gay, it was never discussed openly.
Society Changes Only When We Change
The Sixties opened up my generation as nothing else could. As a result of the turmoil of that time, our society began a process of opening to new ideas about equality for all Americans. While many attitudes and laws have changed in our society, there are still people who are racist, sexist, or against anyone who is not like them.
The society can become unstuck and move forward only when we do. So how do we do that when we feel so attached to a belief or stuck in a life style that makes our change challenging? How do we learn to live forward as Kierkegaard suggests?
We Must Release Limiting Beliefs
Living attached to limiting beliefs about the past can stymie us. When I married at twenty-one, I believed that marriage lasted forever, no matter what. I still think it’s the ideal, but after dealing with my former husband, who kept trying to leave for ten years, I finally decided I had to let him go—there was little value in his remaining for either of us.
Resistance Is A Sign We’re Stuck
How do we know when we’re stuck? We usually encounter repeated resistance in some way. It feels like no matter what we do, nothing changes. Problems don’t get solved. We aren’t getting what we want. Every attempt to get what we want is blocked in some way. The frustration level rises because what used to work no longer does.
When we feel this way, something needs to change, and it’s usually our thinking. When I moved to New Mexico years ago, I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a result of stress and exposure to chemicals and mold in the New Orleans environment and the schools where I taught. I needed to move to a dry climate to heal. But it was more than that. I had felt an attraction to New Mexico and had subscribed to the New Mexico Magazine for years. I found the landscape and art beautiful and felt deeply connected to the Native American Culture.
I did heal my illness there, but my high school teaching experiences were a nightmare. Administrators who wanted to replace me with people they knew wrote evaluations full of lies, and others refused to give me any support with a terribly-behaved class that had been a serious problem long before I arrived. I became a scapegoat for the problems administrators couldn’t solve.
Still, I refused to face the facts. My arrival in New Mexico had been magical, and my first job was perfect for me—teaching a humanities class in a fine arts academy. But it didn’t last because I was the last teacher hired and when they discovered they had too many teachers for students, I was the first to be transferred. Unfortunately, by this time, I had fallen in love with the Land of Enchantment.
We Have To See How Illusions Keep Us Stuck
You know how it is when you fall in love. It’s impossible to see your lover’s negative qualities. You make excuses for him. I refused to give up my belief that this beautiful place was my soul’s home. I ignored the real meaning of enchantment. The lure of its beauty had bewitched me.
Despite being stuck on staying where I was physically, I did begin to be unstuck in other ways. I had been writing a novel, but was blocked and frustrated. Then I started writing my memoir instead just to keep writing and that began to feel like a good change. Eventually, I let go of my attachment to the desert, realizing it was a metaphor for my experience, and moved to North Carolina, a place that truly is my soul’s home.
We Have To Release Our Fear of Change
So often we resist what is obvious because we’re so afraid of change. It’s the unknown and we choose to remain unhappy rather than take a risk, but staying stuck only buries us deeper under more unhappiness. It is only after making the change that we can look back and see whether it was a good choice. That’s reality, and to live life forward means to summon our courage and take the risk.
When I’m at this point, I always think of this saying, “When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.” Unless you are willing to take the step forward, you will never know what possibilities await you.
Through Change We Find Our True Path
In New Mexico and in North Carolina, I kept clinging to the feeling of security that teaching gave me, but that was an illusion. It has all worked out. Just at the time I was running out of money, I reached the age to collect Social Security. Then, I published my memoir and created workshops on how to release fear. The chaos led me to my true life path and whatever I have needed has shown up. It was all in Divine Order.
May you find the courage to live your life forward.
What have you let go of over the years that has allowed you to understand the past and move forward? Please comment.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5