For those of you who celebrate the Christian tradition of Christmas, or who are lovers of literature, you may be familiar with Charles Dickens’ famous short story, A Christmas Carol. It tells a story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miser in 19th century London, who is visited by the ghost of his former partner. The ghost of his former partner shows Scrooge what his fate might be if he does not repent and repair his ways. To aid Scrooge in this, his partner tells him three ghosts will visit him. The ghosts, of Scrooge’s past, present, and future, show Scrooge the realities of his life, and what his death will look like if he does not change.
I thought of these three ghosts when I considered what I have been through this past year. Based on that, I wanted to pass along my very abbreviated take on, and with apologies to, Charles Dickens.
You are visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. The ghost shows you salient parts of your past to try to teach you lessons about what your decisions can lead to years later. I hope you only listen to this ghost partially. I hope you learn the lessons, but don’t let those lessons cause you to hesitate. Sadly, our past can do that to us. It can cause us to be afraid to make mistakes, and thus stop taking chances. Our past has much to teach us, but when those lessons lead to paralysis and fear, we don’t grow. Learn from your past, but don’t let it rule you. Learn from your past, but don’t let it stop you from making the most of the present.
The next ghost is that of Christmas Present. The ghost doesn’t show you your life from your perspective, but from the perspective of those who are in your life. Be careful with this ghost. It can lead to complacency. This ghost shows where we are, standing in place. In many cases it is comfortable being here. Or, it is not very comfortable, but we find it more comfortable than venturing onto an uncertain path. In Dickens’ story, the ghost only has a short span of life, before making ready for the future. That is a good lesson to learn.
Your final ghost is Christmas Yet to Come. Like Scrooge did, I urge you to take in everything that this ghost shows you. Do you like where you are in the future? Do you like who you are in the future? Does the future look like what the Ghost of Christmas Present showed you, but only with you wearing different clothes and a few more gray hairs? If so, and that disturbs you, remember the words of Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Scrooge asked whether this was a foretelling of things that must occur, or may occur? Can a man’s (or woman’s) action allow him (or her) to change what the future holds? Scrooge pleads with the ghost to give him a chance to be a better person, but only receives silence in return. Scrooge learns that only he can change his future by changing is his present.
What would your ghosts show you? Would you like what you see, or long to have a future different from what you were shown? It’s never to late to reforge both those chains holding you down and those fears holding you back.
Go ahead. Show those fears they don’t have a ghost of a chance.