Memories form the narrative of our lives. They build the plot points of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Without these stories, we think we are nothing. The irony is that the stories we tell are based on a thing that no longer exists: the past. Instead of living in the present and taking each moment as it comes, we remain chained to an illusion.
Our memories also act as guideposts for our present experience, and inform our decisions and responses to others. The past, then, dictates the present. For instance, if a childhood friend betrayed me, I might hold my adult friends responsible for that betrayal by not trusting them and judging them harshly if I become disappointed by them in any way. Rather than understanding that I have an unprocessed fear of abandonment that needs to be examined, I hold my friends responsible for my fear.
Or, if I struggle with shame, and an acquaintance says something that triggers it, I may judge him for "hurting me". Rather than understanding that I carry unprocessed shame that is begging to be healed, I hold my friend responsible for my pain.
Or, if I grew up in an orthodox home in which my life was very restricted, I may judge women who dress in a way that I consider to be “inappropriate”. Rather than examining my unprocessed childhood anger, I hold women responsible for it by judging what they wear.
In this way, we hold others hostage to our pain. We blame them for history. History, though, is over. It is no more. It is a wisp of an idea, with no basis in our current reality whatsoever. So, when we choose to blame, we make a choice rooted in fantasy. This doesn't mean that the feelings inspired aren't real. It means that we are confused about their cause. If we can accept that our pain has been laying in wait all along, and allow it to exist within us without judgement, we can refocus our thinking and learn to instantly forgive others. We can free them and ourselves from the bondage of the past.
Each experience we have is orchestrated for our highest good in order to heal the parts of the human collective that need to be healed. The players in any challenging life event are gifts given to us in order to remind us of the pain that remains. When we do not follow the map to the real source, the wound, we deflect from our healing and continue the cycle of denial.
Unfortunately, today most of us make that choice. It is par for the course to blame others for how we feel, and to condemn them for the sins we imagine they have committed. In turn, the "sins" of others are based on the same choice: denial and blame. This creates a world of defense and attack, all in an effort to avoid pain. In this condition, forgiveness is never forthcoming, because forgiveness cannot exist in a culture of blame.
We can change. We can become united in our healing, and in our understanding of the love and the pain that we all share. We can embrace equality and altruism, with nothing to fear, and nothing to lose. There can be abundance for all. This will become reality when we surrender to the truth: that right now is all there is, and all there will ever be.
It seems impossible to shift the current paradigm. Learning to live entirely in the present, without reference to the past or the future, sounds like an insane delusion. The natural response is, “This is the way it is. How can we forget our past? How can we stop worrying about the future? Everyone needs money. Everyone needs a job. Everyone needs to plan for the future. Everyone needs security.”
It is true that we have built a society in which the illusion of time is very firmly set in place. I don't know exactly how we will achieve freedom, but I know that we most certainly will. This is a guarantee. We will develop the capacity to adjust: our bodies will be different, our brains will be different, and we may be unrecognizable compared to who we are now. Whatever the details, we will evolve, just as we always have. We will advance. The illusion of time is teaching us how.
The way to begin is to stop holding the present accountable to the past and hostage to the future. The way is to stop blaming others for how we feel in a fruitless effort to avoid pain, thereby removing us from the present moment by depositing us back into a fearful reality dictated by stories that are based on the non-existent past. The way is to look inward, and let every single emotion flow through the heart with breath and love, no matter where we are, who we're with, or what we think we know.