As we are already into December, I realise that 2004 is finally coming to a close, and the New Year is just around the corner. Calendar changes like that always get me evaluating what I’ve done in the last year, where I am now, and what my plans are for 2005 and beyond.
I was just looking over Charles Dicken’s short novel “A Christmas Carol” and thought it timely. For those who don’t know it, the story is about a miserly businessman named Ebeneezer Scrooge. He was the one who said “Bah! Humbug!” to charity and human kindness.
On the night before Christmas he was visited by four ghosts/apparitions – Marley (Scrooge’s dead business partner), Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. It gave him an opportunity to see his life and the choices he had made, and the changes that had occurred in him – including his un-mourned death.
It was after that night that he decided to change his ways, and support his hard-working employees, and revel in the joy of being alive. While this was, in part a harsh commentary on the social and industrial structure in England at the time, there are lessons to learn from it about our own past, present and future:
Marley: Marley was like Scrooge in his life, and appeared weighted and in chains. Who do you know from past or present who might serve as a warning in your life? And what are the steps you must take in your mind and life to set you on a different course or path from these negative traits? Remember that the mind picks up on similarities and works by association – are there traits in people you despise? These may be ones that you possess or did in the past, or are subconsciously trying to change or ignore – they are the ones that will be highlighted for you. It is a good opportunity to turn the mirror, and then turn the tide on these patterns.
Past: The past holds a wealth of opportunities for learning. True, we can’t go back and do it all again (as many of us would like), but we can take the gems from it. There may be positive traits and behaviours that we had that maybe we’ve sidelined because of ‘more pressing engagements’ – looking at the past allows us to choose to dust off some of these important but forgotten beliefs, practices or abilities.
Mistakes? Wonderful opportunities for lessons on what to do and not do for the future. The biggest lesson in getting the most from the past is to forgive ourselves the errors we made when we didn’t have the information or experience we have now. By doing so, we release ourselves and our mental, emotional, and physical energy to move on and really learn from these mistakes.
Present: Are we living in the moment? Are we paying attention and learning and loving what and who is around us – right now? Jesse Jackson said “your child needs your presence more than your presents” – are we present, and what are we presenting to our loved ones of all ages. In the short novel, the ghost was accompanied by two sickly children – Ignorance and Want. Can we wisely translate past learnings to learning in the present moment? Are we missing what’s going on around us by feeling there is lack in our lives, and wanting for the future (at the exclusion of the now)?
Take a moment to make a thanksgiving list (not the turkey kind) – who and what, right now in your life, are your thankful and grateful for. It is a wonderful way to get our heads in the right place – here and now.
Future / Yet To Come: If you were to project the path that you’re following right now, where will it lead? Take in ALL aspects of your life including work, family, health, fulfilment and learning… Is one a weaker link than the others? Where will that take you? It’s never too late to get back on track – we can choose the path we walk.
Just as Scrooge ‘changed his ways’ the next morning, we can too. Pick your new destination and aim for it, you’ll notice that simply by your choice and mental change in direction, small shifts in events and people around you will start to happen.