Lessons from the past

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“We need to remember what we have learned in the past to engage with the present”, wrote Tony Bates  in Mind Moves in the Irish Times yesterday.

“Every experience has taught us something” he writes. “Nothing is wasted. Each one holds a piece of the truth we seek about ourselves and about life. These truths can be our way back into existence, especially when we are lost.”

He recounts an incident that occured frequently back in his school days, and upon meeting one of his former classmates at a school reunion felt himself “time warped back into this particular moment of my past….minding my own business in 2009 when, wham! – I’m back in secondary school sitting in a two-seater bench, with its fold-up seat. I could almost run my finger along the smooth curved crater carved out for my pencil; I could smell the aged oak and taste the fear in my mouth that confrontations with angry teachers inevitably produced. The question for me was, what had I learned in that classroom that I had need of today?”

Tony then goes on to reflect on the lessons he learned from those school days and concludes:

“Perhaps the main reason I returned to that classroom was my need to be reminded to pay attention. Because in the here and now of 2009 I’m actually sitting beside a forest lake in western Kentucky, with the sun on my face, the light dancing on the water. As I listen, I hear the rustle of some wild thing in the trees behind me and the splash of an unseen frog as it breaks the water’s surface.

Like the Zen poet who wrote, “Even in Kyoto, I was missing Kyoto”, the great danger for me is that the beauty of this moment could pass me by. I needed to hear that teacher’s voice once more, so that I could come back to where I am and not allow myself to be lost in space.”

All our experiences are valuable, good and bad and are here to teach us something, if we just pay attention to the lesson therein.

Read Tony Bates article in full in the Irish Times