Over Coming Our Past to Live in the Present to Prepare for the Future

Our lives are made up of three parts; the past, present and future. We start in the past as a raw block of clay. This block must be molded for the future. The present is shaped in the present. From the moment we’re born our shaping process begins.

Being the son of a sculpture I have seen many pieces go through this process. The process begins with one touch of a hand, one stroke of a tool, and there’s no going back to the very beginning. It’s in the past. We cannot change the past. What does this leave us with? It leaves us with the present and future. If we miss a moment in the present, it instantly becomes the past, and the future is already upon us.

When working with clay we must constantly be present to our actions. Each action leads to a future reaction. There are no wrong movements we can make to the clay, there are only movements. If we don’t like a movement we just made, we can adjust it till we’re satisfied.

Satisfied is a key word here because this is where we come back to the emphasis of this entire blog: Primitive optimism. Satisfaction is a sensation that brings pleasure. Our past experiences can leave us dissatisfied or satisfied. What happens if we constantly move our hands on the clay that leaves us dissatisfied? The clay will dry out, the movements will become harsher, and eventually the clay will crumble. I’m optimistic for most of us the clay will never get to that point.

There are two other analogies I want to bring into the picture. The first being a mallet, with this tool we can take a full block of clay instantly smash it, smash it again and again. When this happens the clay will still be moist, but will take more work to create something other than a flat mess of anger. This represents instant trauma. Water on the other hand is the cure for clay that’s been so worked over it’s almost dry. This represents long term trauma. When clay reaches a state of almost crumbling, it mustn’t be drowned in water. It must be spritzed, patience is important for clay to keeps its integrity. Watering too little will lead to water evaporating before more is applied. Too much and the clay becomes slippery, hard to handle, and doesn’t becomes over saturated. Taking our time, being present to the water and clay relationship.

Now let’s turn this on ourselves. Bare with me here…10

I want to invite you to choose a behavior that has caused significant dissatisfaction in your life. This behavior is a product of your past, and remains present in your life because the clay has dried out in an unsatisfying shape to point where it can’t be changed without help. It needs water, and when it is sufficiently saturated it can be reshaped oh so gently. How do you water this behavior? You did the first step, you acknowledged it. Now, you’re sitting with it. Most importantly you’re asking the right question!

How do I water this behavior that is causing significant dissatisfaction?

Look into the past. The past could be five minutes ago or it could be 40 years ago. You have the courage to do this next piece. Slowly think back to how this behavior has manifested itself in reality. If you go back far enough you’ll find the moment in time when this behavior was shaped. Slowly coming back to the present you’ll see how it’s become solidified, slowly drying out to the point where you are at now unable to change the behavior. At the moment in time where it first started, you have to sit with it, embrace it, understand it. As you come back slowly to the present, the pattern will begin to unravel itself. Slowly coming back is key, just has spraying clay slowly with water. When you’ve come to the present time, you will have a firm grasp of what this behavior is about, and what it’s trying to accomplish. Understanding your behavior in this sense means that it is ready to be reshaped in the present moment with pure attention to detail.

I’m proud of your acknowledging the behavior and asking how to water the behavior. Taking the time to go back in your past, and patiently returning to the present. Now comes the power where you empower yourself to reshape this behavior. A this point you already understand the stimulus that causes this behavior. With this understanding it is up to you to define how you want to react to this stimulus so you are left satisfied with yourself and the outcome of the event.


  1. Acknowledge the behavior
  2. Trace the behavior back in time
  3. Understand the behavior
  4. Trace back to the present moment raveling it
  5. Define your alternate behavior
  6. Apply it to the next time this type of event arrises

This takes work! I’m inviting you to show yourself compassion, patience, and love. Give yourself the time to work on yourself, for yourself, and for the rest of your life.

Go ahead… Tackle that behavior. Transform your life so that the future is full of beautiful art that you can be proud. That beautiful art is you.

Published by: Coach DanielH

Daniel Heller is a strength and conditioning coach, working in the field since 2007 where he began as an intern at Hope’s Gym in Monroe, Washington. In 2009, a month after graduating from Bastyr University, Daniel became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA). Since then, he has served as a strength and conditioning coach in the private sector, helping athletes from youth through college level in ice hockey, figure skating, mountain biking, football, and motocross. He works closely with each athlete’s physical therapists and doctors to ensure safety and performance improvement. In 2013, Daniel received the designation of Registered Strength & Conditioning Coach (RSCC) through the NSCA. On the side Daniel was the exercise physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology consultant for the Advanced Products Development Team at Oakley Inc. He is the Cofounder and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Seattle Institute of Athletic Performance providing Functional Movement Screens, corrective exercises, athletic performance programs, as well as educating athletes and parents on the importance of Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) and practice of heads up sports. Daniel’s passion for strength and conditioning stems from his days as a competitive ice hockey player and mountain biker, aside from the many recreational sports he participates in. He is the true strength & conditioning coach for competitive youths aiming for long careers as athletes but also the weekend warriors that train during the week to stay safe on the weekends. In 2015, Daniel took a year break from coaching in Seattle, Washington to pursue his dream of acquiring a masters degree. He returned to Seattle in September 2016 with a Masters of Science in Strength & Conditioning from the University of Edinburgh after living in Edinburgh, Scotland for a year. By immersing himself in the cycling community of Scotland, he was inspired to focus his dissertation on competitive cyclists from varying disciplines where he researched a potential method of improving stationary sprint start performance. He is excited to return to coaching mountain biking combining his childhood passion with his academic and applied expertise.

Categories Uncategorized2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Over Coming Our Past to Live in the Present to Prepare for the Future”

  1. Very interesting piece. I think it’s also interesting to think of your analogy in terms of using a mallet can destroy whatever you are/want to be whereas using water takes time to remold into a better/different version.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Michael for taking the time to read it. I’m glad you found it interesting. I really felt like I could go on further in either direction with both analogies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s