Long Line: What to do with the Past

This post is part of a series of posts pulled from a piece of writing I completed in November 2012. For more information on this series, see this post.

Context | Looking Back | Transformation | Looking Back at the Looking Back | Questions | On ethics | Letting Go of Nothing | Taking on Subject and Objects | On meaning making | Why the language of causality trouble me | Conceptual versus Empirical | Futuring | Temporality and Time | Brief Note | Back to Time | What to do with the Past | Some tools to help us be | An example from my past | Avoiding Labels | The educational turn | Being and curriculum | Curriculum of Being | Curriculum Futuring | On dispositions as ways of being | Being and pedagogy | Being and technology | Being and the body | References

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What to do with the Past

Time is incredibly (I am increasingly realizing) important for my inquiry. What do we do with our past? Most objectionable to least objectionable: Forget it, let it go, get complete with it, lay it down; Acknowledge the past and work towards refiling it out of your present/future and back into the past; Become aware of the power of the past over the present and the future. The best image I have ever heard to describe this hurdle is that of a filing cabinet: Most of our problems and challenges in life are a filing problem. Imagine your past as pieces of paper organized into folders. As we go through our lives we pick up the files and papers from the past, hold and consult them in the present, and put them into the future. Thus, the future is a repeat of the past.

Can we really just forget the past? We have to study the past to tell us what not to do or what to do differently the next time! I do not want to forget about the heartache of that lost lover or the memories of my deceased parents! How will I know what to do? What do I do without my past? Who am I without my past? Who would I be if I weren’t my past?

I may have been too harsh above. You do not forget your past, but you do get better and better at realizing that it is the past. Let’s connect some dots. The past exists for us in the present via language, by the way we speak and are in any given situation. The past, therefore, is a mixture of things that happened and what we have made those happenings mean (our inevitable meaning making). We create meaning based on any number of assumptions we have about the way things are. But, what we fail to observe is that the way things are are really just the way things have always been because we continue to fill the future with our pasts. Do we really have to let go of or forget the past? No. But we do have to take responsibility for our being and our speaking - especially if we are being and speaking from our pasts.

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