What's Important to Us Changes Over Time

It's a slow week here so far. I have some time off. Plus it's been snowing a lot. So I feel like I'm in partial hibernation.

I've been thinking about how life changes slowly all the time. It's kind of like looking at the hour hand on a clock. You can look at it and not see its movement. But then you look away and look back a few moments later and you see the shift. There's an aspect of that in our lives. Things are in constant change and we don't see it second to second, but at some point we see that our life is different.

The things we used to really like start to no longer dominant our attention. I think we have a hard time when something we identified strongly with, when something that was really important to us, fades in its importance. We had a sense of stability when it was utmost to us. Now that this thing has lost its significance in our life, we feel like part of us is lost. We may and try and hold on, but it doesn't make us feel better.

I had a client once who used to be a well known ballerina. She left behind her dance career when she decided to have children. Her kids were now ten. She wasn't going back to being a ballerina. But half the clothing in her clothes closet was dance wear. When I asked her about the dance clothes, she felt very sad. She deeply missed how significant that part of her life used to be. That sorrow interfered with her new life as a mom.

When I work with someone whose current living space is dominated by their past life, it feels like a ghost is standing in the midst of the living and refusing to leave. It's as if the person's old life is haunting their life now. They are animating the ghosts by holding on to the past with their hearts. It seems to them like it's still giving them stability, but it's actually upsetting their well-being right now.

I asked my client if she could go back to ballet. She said that her body was no longer strong enough. I asked if it would be okay to go through the dance clothes in the closet. She said she felt sad about that. I asked if she liked being a mom. She said yes. I asked what she liked about being a mother. She said she loved watching her kids growing up. I told my client that she was growing up too. She was a ballerina and now she's a mom. I said that what was once really important to her is impeding on what is important to her now. If we could go through her old dance clothes, she would feel freer and stronger. She agreed.

She let the old dance outfits go. She told me she felt a sense of relief. She hadn't realized how heavy their presence had been on her. She said that she hadn't wanted to let go of how special it felt to be a ballerina, even though she was no longer a professional dancer. She did realize that she loved dance, and she decided that she would like to be a ballet teacher.