Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

The past is not the only avenue to the future.


When asked, “What did you fear most when you were homeless,” Gladys* answered without hesitation. “Dying on the streets.”

Recently, I met with the board of a community association where the foundation I work for is considering building a 25 – 30 unit apartment building for formerly homeless Calgarians.

It wasn’t an easy meeting. It wasn’t all sun and roses and welcome to our community.

There was openness. Curiosity. Awareness and a desire to be inclusive and supportive.

There was also fear. Concern. Misunderstanding and misconceptions present.

And there was possibility.

It is the possibility I want to stay with. To expand. To stretch out across the room, the community, the city so that every Calgarian can understand, fear of dying on the streets is real for some people. It is a constant grinding away at their existence. A continuous eating away at their experience of life leaving them to believe, there is no other way, no other street to walk. There is only this existence that is killing them.

Gladys no longer worries about dying on the streets. She is living in an apartment now. In her new way of being she is supported by people who understand her fears, and who believe that with compassionate care, she can thrive in community.

Her thriving will not look like yours or mine. It will be different. But then, mine is different than yours and yours is different than someone else’s. It is our differences that create the vibrancy of our communities. It is our diversity that builds strength into the intersections of our lives.

There is possibility in our differences. There is connection.

When I left the meeting, I marveled at the similarities of our perspectives and experiences.

One man at the meeting, in an attempt to ‘do good’ in a community in another city, had bought a building that was in receivership. He renovated it and provided low rent housing for individuals living on the margins.

It was not easy. It was not a good experience, he shared with the group. I will oppose this project 1,000 percent, he said.

I can understand his fears.

Like Gladys (*which is not her real name), his fears are built on an experience that did not meet his expectations. He set out to ‘do good’ and felt bad with the outcome. He felt abused. Betrayed. Confused. Why would people treat his property so badly? Why couldn’t they see he was trying to help them? To make a contribution to society?

Like Gladys, this man is stuck in his experiences and fears, in his belief that no matter what he does, or anyone else does, it can never be another way. The past dictates the present and determines the future.

My experience is different. My experience has led me to this place where I believe the past does not make the present a repetition of what happened then, again and again. My belief is that when we use our experiences of the past with the intent to inform our actions for the better today, we can create better, we can make a difference.

There are people living on our streets today, and in our emergency shelters, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that dying on the streets will become their future.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

There are people living in our communities today, who have given up on believing there is another way. They live with the constant fear that without high fences, without holding onto to what they have, they will be unsafe in their homes and in their community.

In the streets they walk everyday, they have lost sight of possibility. They have lost hope for a new way of being present in the world.

For my world to change, I must change how I see my world.

When I look at it through eyes of fear, I know fear.

When I breathe into possibility, when I open myself up to allowing possibility for another way to arise, my world becomes a reflection of what I want to create more of in the world around me.

We all know fear. We have all been touched by change and its constant hammering away at the walls of our comfort zones demanding we learn to stretch, to find new moves that will take us away from where we are into that place where anything is possible if we let go of holding onto to what we know and tell ourselves we cannot let go of.

Just as Gladys is learning to let go of street life so that she can embrace a new way of being present in the world today, the possibility exists for each of us to create the kind of world we want to live in. The kind of world our children can live in too. To find a new way of being present in the world today, we must we let go of believing the past is the only avenue to the future.





Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

9 thoughts on “The past is not the only avenue to the future.

  1. Change and the possibility of change is the hope that keeps me going. thanks for this enlightening aspect.


  2. Love this Louise, so very insightful!
    Diana xo


  3. Such a helpful perspective Louise. The present is where real change can start to take place as we move towards a vision of the future and not a repetition of the past.
    Val x


  4. We cannot be enslaved by the past by creating the future of our dreams. Quite insightful and uplifting, thank you! 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤ NadineMarie ❤ ❤ ❤


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