Recently, a childhood friend posted on Facebook a vintage black-and-white photograph of our first grade class. What a strange experience to look at that picture of unfamiliar school children and slowly begin to see familiarity in their faces. Names from the past popped up out of distant memory. I did not, however, recognize myself. I told my friend that I must have been out sick the day the photo was taken. He wrote back, “Isn’t that you on the far left end of the second row?” I peered at the picture more closely and realized in amazement that he was right. Fascinated, I stared at that blondish little girl with big dark eyes, gazing out into her own future. My future. I looked through her eyes and saw myself looking back. Time ceased to exist in that moment of backward-forward perception.
How often do we stumble across those flashes of memory that stop us in our tracks momentarily, lost somewhere between the past and the present? Some say human life is a series of beginnings and endings out of which we fashion our remembered sense of self in the world. Yet we are so much more than our memories, which are really just a long parade of Instagram photographs that we identify as our personal history, our life’s story. Beyond the mental perceptions of time and our place in it, however, is consciousness itself—an awareness that is greater than any one life. In those brief moments of backward/forward memory jumps, we are given an opportunity to see our life from the soul’s point of view, wherein all time is simultaneous, and everything is occurring now. There is no real distinction between a past, present, or future self. The soul sees one being, experiencing time but not defined by it.
Why would we want to see things from the soul’s perspective? Well, if we completely open to soul vision, we see everything is of a piece, whole. We perceive the oneness at the core of all life. Conflicts, comparisons, and judgments fall away. We can never fail our childhood selves and the dreams they had for the future, because we are those children and we are living those dreams now. We are not lost, nor have we taken a wrong path or made a wrong decision. Everything is unfolding in a way that is perfect for our soul’s growth and evolution.
When I looked back at my childhood self in that photo, I wondered, Where is the “I” that is all of me, girl and woman? My soul answered: I am no where. I am now here. I am present. I AM. Taking a long, deep breath, I felt the wholeness of that “I AM,” a timeless soul presence beyond “where.” No separation—the adult and the child are one. If we open our hearts to the soul’s vision of oneness, we can embrace all possibilities and all selves, and life begins to flow in a less fragmented, graceful way. We are able to see the perfection that is at the heart of our own infinitely expansive lives. Within that perfection, there is no backward or forward; there is just fluid, unbroken, loving presence.
2 thoughts on “Looking Back Looking Forward”
Love this post. Pictures really help express the idea that all time is simultaneous. You can be catapulted back to an experience you had at an earlier age and remember it as if it happened only seconds ago. Sometimes I have that odd sensation that many years can pass so quickly. Was it really 17 years ago? And, in my heart and mind, I still feel youthful, even though I have gained some of the wisdom of an experienced “sage”. Great picture, by the way!
Thank you, Anne!