The Past Is a Sheer Cliff Just Back of Your Heels

The past is a sheer cliff just back of your heels.  It’s all down there, so far below that when you look over your shoulder and down, you can barely make out details of any of the rubble.  The moment before this one is down there, tumbled in with the wreckage of yesterday, last week, last year, and the first day of high school.  It’s all the exact same amount of past.

You can’t stop the mind.  But you can step outside and watch it create content. 

You are standing in a place that is just the size of your shoes.  You will never move.  You only seem to move.  Your feet cannot be anywhere but this now.

The mind is able to move.  The feet are here while the mind is 20 years ago, or next week, or maybe-someday, or an hour ago.  The feet and heart are here.  The past has all dropped behind you, gone as gone can be, but the mind can’t quite believe the utter goneness.  It cannot see the utter impossibility of reconsidering, of remaking what has happened.  The uselessness of trying to make it okay that it happened the way it did. 

Consolation is as useless as regret.  The thing about the past is that it is gone.  And that it is a fact.  These are the only useful things to see about the past.

The future doesn’t exist.  Only one thing is real:  now.

Only when the past is allowed to be a mere fact, only when the future isn’t counted upon, does it become possible to take a deep breath and actually occupy the present.

This is why the mind is so significant.  Why seeing that the mind isn’t you, isn’t life, is key to being here now.  Whatever the mind creates for content is at a remove from immediate life.  Suffering is created in the mind.  You can’t stop the mind.  But you can step outside and watch it create content.  The reason you can do this is that there is more to you than your mind.  When you step outside and see what it’s doing, you are in reality.  You are here, now.  You are experiencing the moreness of yourself, the hereness of yourself.  You are able to see, from here, that the mind cannot do you harm so long as you don’t live inside it, believing its rendering of reality.

What people tend to do, when they want to end the mind’s torment, is to try to use the mind’s own arguments to vanquish itself, to reason with itself.  This will never work.  Just let the mind go on muttering to itself.  Walk outside the room where it’s going on. 

It’s peaceful out there.

After a while of doing this, when you get to where you can readily step outside, you’ll find that the mental content fades from color to black-and-white.  After a while, when you stop living within it, you’ll feel your feet where they are.  You’ll feel your heart.  You’ll smell the air.  You’ll face the present reality, whatever it is, with all your resources (including, by the way, your useful mental resources).  Your attention will be on what you’re doing.  You’ll forget there is even a past back there, that there’s a pile of rubble far below, just back of your heels.  It’s all just what happened, exactly how it happened.  Nothing more.  You’ll find acceptance easy, natural.  You won’t be afraid of the future, or try to make it a certain way.  You’ll forget it’s even coming, because all of your attention will be right here. 

You’re alive.  Welcome to your life.

- Jan Frazier
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