Setting Free the Past to Open the Future

by Liz Jansen

setting freeI met Abigail twenty-two years ago at an SPCA foster home in rural Ontario. My husband and I were looking for our little Mickey who had disappeared and there she was, a little tortoiseshell kitten sharing a bathroom home with a big orange tabby named Roger. Needless to say, she came home with us and became “my” cat. As was to be his style, Mickey turned up at the door a few weeks later.

When we separated, Abigail choose to stay with her three feline brothers in the home she was accustomed to, but she was never out of my heart. It was only after she left this planet four years ago that she came back to my place, albeit in a little cedar box. Last week I set her free, amongst the trilliums in the nearby forest where I often hike.

The spot is near the end of a 5 km loop so I was able to carry her for a while and introduce her to the woods. Maybe it was my imagination, but there was extra energy, chatter and birdsong that day. It was like new furred and feathered friends were greeting her as she walked by, welcoming her to this special place. Even a toad waited by the side of the path for us to pass.

The trilliums, which form a blazing white carpet every spring, are faded and droopy now, already preparing for winter hibernation. The hardwood canopy is thick, but sunlight does get through, enough to form patches where she can sleep. Fallen trees offer a place to sit and contemplate. To get grounded.

As the departure date for my trip rapidly approaches, there are more endings than I imagined. There’s nothing like an epic event, even though it’s voluntary, to force you to sit back, take stock of what’s important, and make sure your affairs are in order. Thus in the last few weeks, I’ve redone my will, purchased long term out of country health care insurance, purchased emergency evacuation insurance, arranged to have my phone and internet service disconnected, sold my car, and single-handedly restocked the local Paws and Claws Thrift shop.

With such a focus on symbolic and literal endings, it’s easy to become preoccupied with them and get overtaken by a sense of loss. On the other hand, it’s tremendously liberating. There’s no attachment to things to weigh me down and hold me back from walking through doors that open when there’s nothing in their way.

My friend Allan Karl, world traveler and author of FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection, likes to point out that at every fork in the road is a new beginning. And without endings, there can be no beginnings.

Perhaps most telling in this natural cycle, is my purchase of a GPS. Loving maps, I’ve always resisted purchasing one, not wanting to dull my intuitive tracking skills. I’ve come to the understanding though, that the additional expertise will expand my scope in uncharted territory. Even as I embrace the magic of the present, the stage is set for new possibilities, new opportunities and a new stretch of road. There will undoubtedly be challenges requiring courage, creativity and ingenuity to manage, and help to stay out of my own way. I’ll need a GPS.

The truth is, we’re always free to fly. It’s up to us to decide if we get weighed down by the past, or learn its lessons to embrace our future.





Author, writer, student and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

8 Comments on “Setting Free the Past to Open the Future

  1. Hi Liz I love reading your posts because they are always insightful and never fail to get me thinking about things. Sometimes even things I don’t want to. Thank you and I look forward to catching up with you soon.

    • Hi Alison – thank you. I don’t always want to think about them either. 🙂
      Talk soon.


  2. Once again, as I read your posts, your words transport me to the place in that very moment, and I reach that place of Aha! I love to read what you write. My best wishes on your journey.
    See you soon, my friend!

    • Thank you Joan. So glad the message comes through. Best wishes to you on your continued journey. I expect our roads will meet again sometime soon.



  3. Curious to know if you changed or upgraded things like cameras and if so will you be joining Instagram? I love finding and following riders all over the world on Instagram.
    Take care, Marel

    • Hi Marel,

      I’m taking my iPhone and a Cannon G12. I’m actually taking a course right now on creating professional videos from the iPhone which I’m looking forward to getting into. I’m not on Instagram – yet, but hadn’t really thought about it. Thanks for the suggestion. It won’t be right away but I can see doing it once I get on the road.

      Where’s your next adventure?


  4. Dear Liz
    You have such a way with your words you express on your posts . I can visualize perfectly the path you follow . I so enjoy this opportunity each time I open your email. It is so wonderful you are in the place you are mentally , physically and spiritually . Seize all your opportunities with confidence and pleasure . Take care and be safe .

    Sandra Mione-Kent

    • Thank you for those beautiful words Sandra. I’m glad you’re finding meaning in my words – and I know I’m extremely blessed. Just last evening I was speaking with my mom, who is 88 and has dementia. She was asking about my trip (usually she wants to know if I’m back yet) and told me to go for it. “You get old fast and then it’s too late. Experience as much as possible while you can.”

      Safe travels to you too.