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Sledding, and Our Patterns

My first Jewish Liberation Workshop, led by Cherie Brown,* was in the snowy woods of central Massachusetts, USA—an ideal setting for both looking at chronic patterns and going sledding!

The Saturday morning class stands out because of Cherie’s demonstrations and this thinking that she shared: The past informs the present, but we are not in the past. The past got internalized, and we rehearse it in the present so we may confuse the two, but they are distinct. We need to look at the past, face it, see what happened there, feel what happened there, and then break from it. It can be as clear-cut as changing our tense from past to present. For example, we may feel that we are victimized but we were victimized.

In my mind’s eye, I could see the change in tense as breaking from the past and forging a new path.

Going sledding during the break, I could feel the past and present embodied in the sledding trails. Where we start our sled, and its orientation, at the top of the hill (in the past) informs where we end up at the bottom (in the present).

The well-worn sledding trails are like our familiar patterns. The more we pack down the same trail, the faster and more comfortable it becomes. After a while it gets so well worn that even if we try to forge a new trail, we are drawn back onto the familiar pre-existing one. The snow may be so deep that as we pack it down we can’t even see over the sides of the trail to glimpse other possibilities.

It may feel like we are making progress, because as we pack down the snow, we go farther and farther each time. But we are still on the same path, when what we actually seek is a new path altogether.

A new path requires a new starting point, because if we return to the same starting point, we are likely to end at the same spot on the bottom of the hill.

The more times we try new paths, even if we are sometimes pulled back to our first route, the more options ultimately become available to us. We can have a whole hill of possibilities!

We don’t get rid of the past; we go up to the top of the hill to face it and then break from it, continuing to forge new paths until a network of possibilities eclipse our old rigid thinking.

Riana Good

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

(Present Time 183, April 2016)


* Cherie Brown is the International Liberation Reference Person for Jews.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00