More often than not, the easiest thing to do is dwell upon the past, focusing on all of the individual experiences that have helped to shape us into the person we are today. While it is true that each step along the path of our lives has led us to the present, we must separate our journey from our individual selves. We are not our pasts. We are who we have become as a result of our experiences, yet we need to recognize that we no longer live in the past; instead, we live because of the past. While we are where we are today because of the path we took to get here, we are not doomed to any particular conclusion. Each day is a new choice to walk the path in our own unique way, to a destination of our own making.
As I reflect on my own journey, I am now aware of my power to clearly see things from this perspective. I am able to change the small voices inside my head, the ones that once told me that the tolerance of undesirable conditions meant that I was strong. No, what makes me strong is my ability to stand up and say “I won’t tolerate these conditions any longer!” Yes, I have learned that this is my life, which means I must act like it and take my destiny into my own hands. I cannot wait for things to work out independent of my own efforts. Waiting for things to “work out” on their own is like rolling two die over and over again, hoping for two sixes that may never come. The act of continually throwing the die can become powerfully addicting, believing there is always a chance, however small that might be, that our numbers will finally come up. Unlike the roll of the die, life is not a game of chance. The outcomes of our lives are the product of the decisions we make today, in the here and now. Sure, it can be fun to dream, to have hope and even faith, but those alone will not lead us to the life we have imagined.
It is a matter of control. Once, I surrendered control over my own mind, and my own outcomes, to a very small group of individuals who thought they knew, or at least they told me they knew, what was best for me. I didn’t have to worry about the future. Do the work, they said, and it will all work out. I believed them, for a time. When I no longer believed them, I suddenly had no mind of my own. Outside of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I initially experienced a significant “power vacuum.” Without someone, or something, telling me how to live my life, I went on a quest in search of my own mind, in search of control over my outcomes. It took me many years to acquire and then utilize this power.
As I stand here today, I know now that there is no law of numbers when it comes to my own life. I am in full control over the outcomes. I will roll a twelve if I see fit to do so. The decisions I make today, in this moment, and in every moment that follows, will decide my fate and my future. My mind is under no one’s control other than my own. Whatever happened in my past, whatever power and control I once gave up, no longer matters.
I am not my past. I am my now.