Friday, March 27, 2015

My Memory Is Not My Friend

As you have heard me discuss lately, this last 4 weeks of our winter has been hard for me – physically, financially, and emotionally. As is my habit, I immediately rely on learned behavior to deal with non-working blower motors on our heating/cooling system, with non-responsive repair people or manufacturers, with warranty companies and their excessive “fine print” that explains why my situation is not covered. Most of the time things work out. Some times they don’t.
In any case I find myself forgetting to simply deal with what is in front of me – the NOW that’s facing me. It may not make much of a difference in the final outcome, but it leaves my focus on the existing situation rather than on  (1) the situation itself, (2) the surfacing emotions – frustrations, angers, irritabilities – from a remembered similar situation, (3) my response to reliving those surfacing emotions, and (4) trying to “fix” those remembered past situations through my attempts to deal with the present crisis. Trying to deal with all 4 of these issues is much more unmanageable than simply dealing with #1.
One of my earliest learning experiences when beginning my study of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was to comprehend that I can no longer use my past experiences to guide me. I really understood that to use my past experience is simply to relive that past all over again. If it was a good experience, well, that’s nice. If it was a horrible experience, then I’m reliving and “re-enjoying” that awfulness once more. But, in either case, I’m not living NOW. I’m shutting the door on the possibility that the Holy Spirit can use me in this situation to allow my love to help transform the encounter. He can’t use me because I’m no longer there. I’m too busy reliving the event that exists in my head.  I will continue to shut Him out because my belief is that my memory is replaying more of a reality than the true reality that is staring me in the face.
But the reality I think I’m replaying is not accurate. It is a selective, edited, supportive rendition of the past I created to support the image I have of myself.  I have a story I tell myself to explain myself to me. It’s my ego. It has created this magical movie that has cast me as the “unsung” hero of the story.
A while ago I asked you to test this out. The next time you get together with family or old high school buddies, recall a common incident and your recollection of it – what was important, what you learned, what stands out for you. You will hear some tell you they have no memory of that at all. Others will tell you different interpretations of that same event. Quite a few of you responded over the next month to verify that experience indeed happened to you.
In a novel I’m currently reading – “O” Is For Outlaw by Sue Grafton, Henry Holt, 1999 – the heroine states: “... I was ready to go through the box of memorabilia, though I half dreaded what I would find. So much of the past is encapsulated in the odds and ends. Most of us discard more information about ourselves than we ever care to preserve. Our recollection of the past is not simply distorted by our faulty perception of events remembered but skewed by those forgotten. The memory is like orbiting twin stars, one visible, one dark, the trajectory of what‘s evident forever affected by the gravity of what’s concealed.” [pp. 24-25]
I love the way Grafton compared memory to twin stars – visible and dark. It is a wonderful depiction of how my memory seems to work.
Long before I was aware of ACIM, I was dealing with my sponsor in AA over issues of respecting my past but moving on beyond it. My superior at work had been out of town on an extended work duty, and I had been having issues with my boss’s boss about how I was handling a difficult government client. This client was the Inspector General of a cabinet-level federal agency. One day I returned to my office after visiting another agency. My secretary rushed in with an urgent message from my boss’s boss to contact him immediately. My initial thought was very fearful. Had this difficult client called him with a complaint about me? Was I about to be fired? Demoted? Then I remembered what my sponsor had told me about dealing with my past. He had said that many times he had feared punishment from superiors only to discover he was really reliving difficult times he had had with his father.
So, I breathed in a long breath and told myself, “You are not being called to the principal’s office, nor are you being confronted by your angry father. Just call and go see your Senior Vice President.” I did just that and heard him tell me he had just visited this difficult client and had been reamed out. The client had told him – in effect – to mind his own business. The client stated he had some issues with me, but we had developed an honest and positive working relationship and, most importantly, he trusted me.
I had stopped letting the emotions of other bad experiences color the present. I simply dealt with what was in front of me.
Now, when I find myself with my perceived ineffective contractors, the only way I can correct this is to state: "I am <angry, worried, disappointed, etc.> at/because <name, situation> but I am only reacting to a world whose meaning I created from a selective memory of my past. I am determined to really see! I am neither the victim nor the victor. I do not know what anything, including this situation, means, so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me.” So, I ask – “I really no longer want this; Help me to see another way of looking at this situation."
Then I still my mind and listen for the message of my Spirit Guide!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#5 March 2015
Copyright 2015

1 comment:

  1. I too the "twin star" thought...
    the trajectory of what‘s evident forever affected by the gravity of what’s concealed.