Jasmin Chew

This Is How You Move On From The Past

There is this chilling moment when you truly realize that the past is gone. Maybe it happens as you pick up an old t-shirt that was once so new and you realize that those days are over. Suddenly, everything you knew is gone, swept away into the ether like last summer’s sun. Suddenly, the future came rushing forward before you were ready for it, and all of the running around you’ve been doing to avoid that fact, all the frenetic attempts to tie yourself to the past, all of that was a desperate attempt to hold on to what was irrevocably lost.  

Your mind can’t believe it, let alone your heart accept it, but whether you want it or not, life has shaken you up once again and thrown you someplace new. You can arrive at the present moment kicking and screaming, but you’re here now, and again: the past is gone.

That’s not to say that life won’t be better or beautiful or unbelievably magical — of course it will be that, it will be everything and more. Of course you’ll find your home again. But the running to and from old coffee shops, yoga studios and friends’ houses — those days are gone. You can keep the t-shirt and fold it, put it away as if you’ll wear it all the same. But one day, it will be thrown away into a donation box with all of your other past t-shirts; one day you won’t think twice about letting it go. 

Suddenly, it’s time for new places and new people to steer you and usher you into a new phase of life. A new phase of being, a new way of existing. So say yes to life. Always say yes to life, always work with it and within it. 

Honor the past by living fully in the present. Honor what was by cherishing what is. We don’t honor the past by clinging to it and wishing things would never change. We honor the past by living beyond it, transcending it, growing from it — carrying with us all the people who loved us, all the things that transformed us, all the memories that made us. 

We make our past selves proud by being grateful for everything; for the simple and poignant gift of having a past to miss, of memories in which we can revel and reminisce. The best and truest way to honor the past is to live urgently, radically, totally — to live now. And don’t fret — the unfamiliar “now” will soon become one of your happiest homes. I can’t tell you when it will happen, but just know that it will. 

There is no definitive moment when a place you live becomes your home. It’s not like as soon as you unpack your bags, you’re unequivocally there. Most attempts to make a new place your home feel like scrambled efforts to cobble together a coherent present. Maybe it happens when you make your first real dinner, or when you get off the phone after a late night conversation with someone far away. Maybe it becomes home when you break something, or leave some kind of accidental and permanent damage. 

Maybe it’s the million and one movements that accumulate like dust on the floor. You never really notice dust until it’s time to sweep it, and you never really feel at home until suddenly, you do. 

However it happens, however slowly or suddenly a place becomes a home, it will still catch you off guard when you realize you’ve crossed to the other side. 

One day you will call this new place your home. It will be like calling your new guy your boyfriend for the first time. It’ll fall out your mouth naturally and yet it will immediately feel strange, as though you heard someone else say it. The feeling of familiarity will catch you off guard. Yet there you will be, calling this new place “home” without even thinking about it, as if a part of you was settled in long before you’d even arrived.