Sometimes one of the coolest and most enlightening parts about being a parent is watching movies like “Kung-Fu Panda” with the kiddos.
There is a section in the movie where the protagonist, Po, is having serious doubts about his destiny.
Grandmaster Oogway reminds him, and us, of something he once heard:
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift – that is why they call it the present”
This is something that those of us with trauma in our lives would do well to remind ourselves of on a daily basis.
It is so easy to get stuck in the past. I won’t discount what happened to me, and neither should you. Also, even if our trauma’s are vastly different, they have no need to “compete” for “worst shit to happen to someone, ever.” Yesterday is history. Akin to history, it can be looked at from a plethora of angles. Did I lose friends and acquaintances? Yep. Did the Afghan National Army Soldiers who were turned by the TB due to threats against their family and who then turned on us American’s in a green-on-blue? Sure, but how limited were their choices? Same trauma – different perspectives. Yet, it is generally a good rule to not turn your trauma into someone else’s new traumatic event.
It is also easy to get stuck in the future. Unknowable, mysterious, fearful, or hopeful…the future can have a lot for us. I catch myself making not only the sensical 1 month – 1 year plan, but devolving into a 5, 10, 15, 20 year plan on when things will all be under my control. Selfish, right? Those of us with trauma need hope, and sometimes the distant future is the only place we can lay anchor.
Unlike the past and the future, it is very hard for me to get stuck in the present. This is where mindfulness, for me at least, comes into play. It helps to breathe deeply and become “body-aware.” It helps to feel different textures. Communication in the present can be very challenging as well, because for many like me, the present can be as elusive (and yet viewed as extremely poisonous) as a snake.
So who are you? What path of becoming are you on today? Never forget, and don’t stop planning, but leave those two as complementary to the greatest gift we have each and every day, the present.