We're Past the Past

I was thinking about how sometimes when I'm feeling crappy, I'll get this thought like, "I'm always going to feel crappy," as if I can predict the future. But then at some point I notice that I'm feeling really good, and I think, "This is great! I'm going to feel like this forever!" And of course it starts to fade into another feeling.

It reminded me of a time when I was in college and I went into the dining hall where there was all-you-can-eat food, and I felt like all I wanted was a grapefruit. So that's all I ate for dinner. I felt so light and happy. I went to bed and fell asleep easily and felt fantastic, and I slept the night through. I even felt great in the morning.

The next night, I went to the dining hall and I thought, "I want to feel that feeling again." So I just ate a grapefruit again. This time I was really irritable because I was so hungry. I got more and more edgy. I went to bed and couldn't fall asleep. I woke up in the morning miserable, having only slept a few hours.

These and MANY other experiences like this have made me realize that nothing stays the same. We can't repeat anything. Even a song on the radio -- the second time I hear it is a totally different feeling.

In the same way, to hang onto something because of the feeling we associate with it doesn't work. "I wore the jacket to the party and it was so exciting, so I'll keep it...that shot glass was given to me by my most fun boyfriend, so I'll hold onto it."

Hanging onto something because of memories that are etched into it never turns out to be a good guide post for whether to keep something. But we can never repeat the original experience, like me and the grapefruit.

Don't take my word for it. Think about things in your life that were great experiences, but when you tried to repeat them...what happened? They usually came out flat.

Even so, we have a very tight grip on objects that represent these old experiences, as if holding them tighter will somehow evoke the elusive experience that we once had. That really tight grip makes us unable to open up our hands to receive the next available experience, the one that could be new and fresh in our hands in the moment.

We let go by recognizing our experiences from the past and noticing that it's not possible to control our fulfillment. The things that truly make us happy often come out of nowhere in a spontaneous moment. Trusting that experience leaves us open for more happiness.