Monday, 22 June 2015

Past, Future and detachment

As I move into a new phase of my professional life, I'm conscious of the challenge of detaching from the past. It seems to me, however, that leaving things behind is really a matter of projecting them into the future. People say "The past catches up with us", but actually, we catch up with the past. In fact, it occurs to me that this is very similar to the concepts of "credit" and "debt" in economics: there too is detachment from present responsibilities and and past commitments projecting them into the future - where we eventually catch-up with them (think of Greece today!) However, there is a further distinction. Some detachments are "just" and some are cruel or unjust. Just detachments are organic. They arise out of love and knowledge of the necessity of detachment: the need for children to grow up and step into the world on their own is a classic example. What is projected into the future in this case is love, acknowledgement, gratitude. So what about cruel detachments?

These seem sudden, inexplicable (although sometimes anticipated), and usually the result of a power imbalance (unlike "just" detachments). The injustice is projected into the future like a lie. And there it lies in wait for us to catch up with it! Each of us, I believe, experiences and is responsible for both types of detachment. Each of us catches up with the past-projected-as-future. Encountering the past-in-the-future is a profound moment of truth in life. However, things can get out of balance. Projecting the past into the future can become a pathological habit. Like a lie, it simply gets bigger and bigger: the necessity to avoid the moment of truth, to project it up until the point of death becomes ever more urgent. This is what it is to live in fear.

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