But this doesn’t mean the past and the future aren’t worthy of your attention.
The present does not exist in a vacuum. The present is directly influenced by the past. You are influenced by your personal past traumas and victories. And even beyond this lifetime, the genetic and cultural legacy of your ancestors sway your life today.
Beliefs vary on this, but I believe we are also influenced by the future. What is time, anyway? Is it really linear? Who’s to say that things which haven’t yet unfolded on your timeline aren’t already creating waves for you to surf right now?
And let’s be real: whether or not the past and future are worthy of your attention, they sure do demand your attention sometimes, don’t they? Unless you’re like the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle or something, you probably find yourself pondering the past or imagining the future just as often as you find yourself perfectly centered in the present.
At any given moment, some of your energy is going to the past. Some the present. And some to the future. How much energy you are giving to each – and what that energy consists of – varies.
In some instances, you are consciously aware of this. Perhaps you know you’ve been stuck on something that happened long ago, or projecting yourself vividly out about something that may (or may not) happen soon. But the tricky thing is that you’re not always consciously aware of where your energy is going, let alone why it’s going there.
Why does any of this matter though? I mean, I will try to tell you more about why in a moment, but first let’s let my boy Carl Jung drop some wisdom:
“Whoever protects himself against what is new and strange and regresses to the past falls into the same neurotic condition as the man who identifies himself with the new and runs away from the past. The only difference is that one has estranged himself from the past and the other from the future. In principle both are doing the same thing: they are reinforcing their narrow range of consciousness instead of shattering it in the tension of opposites and building up a state of wider and higher consciousness.”
I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot lately, because I’m in a phase where I find my own energy distribution across the time continuum to be… wild. A few weeks ago I visited my parents house and went through a bunch of my old stuff from high school. Which led to a week of obsessively listening to music that I loved in high school. And using all this nostalgia as a sort of comfort blanket against dealing with the present.
Some people might say I was protecting myself against the strange and new while regressing into the past.
Then this week I’ve been on a huge kick of planning for the future. Stocking up on food in case of a global pandemic, considering what I want my business to look like in a year, voting in a presidential primary. Making a list of upcoming albums and video games I’m looking forward to.
Identifying with the new and running away from the past?
Let’s just say I have accepted that I’ll always be a slightly neurotic person. But like I said earlier, there are ways to minimize that neuroticism.
Luckily for us, there is this tool which is super effective at bringing unconscious stuff into the light of your conscious awareness. This tool is called tarot, of course!
I’m approaching this by using a variation of a classic Past/Present/Future tarot spread. Instead of looking for general reflections, I’m specifically asking what I need to know about the energy I’m giving to each of these realms. And I’ve added a fourth card to bring advice on how I might better distribute my energy.
Cheers to building up states of wider and higher consciousness,