DISCLAIMER: This is not the drug-induced or psychological trauma related to sudden and disturbing vivid memories of events in the past. Then again I’m not really sure how to categorize it.

So. . . . let’s just go with History. And if you’re bad with dates, don’t worry this has none.

History has a way of flaunting itself in the present. When this happens, it usually takes on some peculiar characteristics. It may begin as a foggy, hazy animated picture, continue in an ever increasing vivid color, and then end with the bang of fireworks. This is the kind of history I’m referring to.

Or should we settle for REMINISCE. No! I like FLASHBACK better.

In my usual contemplative mode this time of the year, I’m having a lot of them lately. All the cylinders of my brain seem to be firing like crazy. If you were in my head you would be experiencing the flickering neon party the likes that happen only in Las Vegas. It is like the ‘Year-in- Review’ TV programming hours before a New Year is ushered in.

That is what has been keeping me up these days. This rare case of insomnia is now getting me a bit restless. So maybe allowing my thoughts to be captured by alphabets and sentences will be a good sedative.

These extended moments of total recall are good exercises in helping me put some things in perspective while setting me free to live vicariously in the coming days. You must try that. So I’m gallantly taking a temporary excursion into the past. Mind you this is not the “what-ifs”, “I-should’a”, “would’a”, “could’a” kind. This is purely learning from the past. And I don’t plan on camping there either. In the end, I would have made some sense of, and peace with 2011, then create some valuable space for 2012.

The brain and the mind together are like a computer and software. Or, in a more contemporary parlance, a Tablet and Apps. Their uncanny ability to conspire, record and store information cannot be overemphasized. It is therefore helpful to do this reality check every now and then. Again, for me it is always around this time.

That is why I see the value of History. History is simply what happened. It is in the past. Although it cannot be brought back in the sense of undoing what happened, we nonetheless often relive it wishing for a do-over. It is what it was and that’s that. Many a time, the problem with history is that the details and our interpretation of what actually happened do not tally. All of us, at one time or another, for one reason or another, become very flexible and liberal with our imagination assigning ridiculous meanings to simple events. We embellish into reality what never occurred. A skewing of little details here and there and the whole story becomes a different narrative. This is when things get a bit sinister.

This is the stuff that self deception, loneliness and bitterness is made of. It is the seed bed of delusional living and common insanity. The telltale signs are living with regrets, in secrets and an inability to freely talk about some events without drama. Living in the past is such a suffocating experience that creates a constant struggle with moving onto wholesome maturity. Simply put, it is a state of Arrested development. The Christmas season is often a fuse that triggers the dynamite of deep emotions of the past, especially during family gatherings. The best way to sandbag one’s self against the holiday blues is to prepare to courageously face the past with a focus on moving on into a better future.

Just in case you’re wondering why I speak so eloquently about this, rest assured I’m intimately familiar with this state. I was once incarcerated in the past. It takes guts to look at your flashbacks. Thankfully, you will be making your way out of jail when you do.

I’m reminded of a man with a checked past, once called Saul, who changed his name to Paul admonishing that, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” is a vital key to wholesome maturity. To forget the past means remembering it first of all, and then facing it squarely in order to move ahead. He did not deny, rationalize, sweep under the rug or pretend history did not happen. He faced it and then moved on. This kind of flashback is useful.

Have you had yours lately? It’s a good time for that. So while you’re shopping, wrapping gifts addressing Christmas cards (does anyone do that anymore?), singing Jingle bells or drinking Egg Nog, consider giving yourself the gift of flashback. It is the enema for the soul that may help you enjoy a guilt-free Christmas season and a prosperous New Year.

And if nothing at all you would have added a healthy tradition of being consciously benevolent to yourself, during this Christmas season and many more to come.

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