The Great Mistake of the Two-Faced God

Janus — Vatican Museums

JANUARY—THE MONTH OF NEW BEGINNINGS. For so many of us, it’s a time to take stock of our lives through the past year—and to make plans and changes during the year to come.

This is the month named for Janus—the two-faced god of Roman mythology who with one face looked back—and with the other, forward. The great mistake of Janus, though, was that he did not or could not view the present.

Past, present, and future.

We each have all three. When it comes to our past, we may enjoy looking back to savor its wonderful memories (something that becomes an increasing focus as we enter life’s later years). Or, all too often, we look back and dwell on our past mistakes, pains and sufferings, disapppointments, and regrets. If, in the present, we spend too much time trying to live in the past—rehearsing what we should have done differently and obsessing over what actually did happen—we will make ourselves miserable.

When it comes to our future, we may enjoy planning for it, or to looking forward to accomplishments and milestones and happy experiences. But if, in the present, we spend too much time trying to live in the future—worrying about the awful things that may be headed our way, about possible threats to our pocketbooks, livelihoods, relationships, health, or even our continued existence—we will make ourselves miserable.

We can’t control or change the past.
We can’t control or change the future.

We can learn from the past; we can plan for the future. But we can’t live in either place.
All we have is the present. Our lives move through time so that all we can inhabit is a single moment. The present. NOW.

We are not what we WERE. We are not what we WILL BE. We are who we ARE.

No one has ever said it better for me than Helen Mallicoat:

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly, my Lord was speaking!
“My name is I AM”…He paused…I waited…He continued.

“When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WAS.”

“When you live in the future with its problems and fears,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.”

“When you live in THIS moment
it is not hard. I am here.
My name is I AM.”


3 responses to this post.

  1. a constant struggle for me is to live in the “now” with a recognition of what was done to allow me to create who I will become… Have a good year! ~Cynthia


    • Posted by Jackie Harvell on October 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      I was taught to do this as a child as this was written by my Grandmother. She was a very special woman. Her wisdom was astounding.


    • Posted by Leanna on May 13, 2014 at 12:42 am

      This is my-our “Great” Grannie Mallicoat’s poem. Her son is my-our Grandfather(Stephen Mallicoat) We call him “Papa” We all first heard it(I Am) when we were little kids. It meant a lot then, but now I think I can speak for us all, now that we really understand it… It means the world. I’m glad and thank God that it has touched so many lives. God Bless. 🙂 Leanna


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