If you ask most people to point to where they locate their future, they will point in front of themselves. Similarly, they see their past as located behind them. A few oddballs use left and right, but most have this view of facing into the future. We walk forwards to get to our destination, and where we were a few steps back is therefore always behind us, so it makes logical sense. This is embedded in our language; growth and development are seen as “moving forward” whereas we look back at past events. This has been studied and found to be almost universal across many languages and societies.
However, I was intrigued to discover that there is one clear exception.
“Aymara, an Amerindian language spoken in the Andean highlands of western Bolivia, southeastern Peru, and northern Chile, appears to present a fascinating contrast to these well-known patterns ….. In Aymara, the basic word for FRONT (nayra, “eye/front/sight”) is also a basic expression meaning PAST, and the basic word for BACK (qhipa, “back/behind”) is a basic expression for FUTURE meaning.” *
Their understanding is that your future is unknown, therefore located where you cannot see it, whereas you can always see your past, so it is located spatially in front of your natural field of vision.
In our western culture, we spend a lot of time trying to see into our future, planning and organising it whilst turning our backs on the past.
What I’ve discovered through my personal experiment with Living according to my Human Design, following my Strategy and Authority for almost 7 years, is that I can live like the Aymara. And that it’s more than OK to live in this way. I have no idea about my future except that it is uncertain. And I have come to like it that way. I have discovered that such uncertainty is actually rich with potential.
Walking backwards through life means trusting that every experience I have will find its place in the pattern of my life. But at the time of having it, I do not know what that will be. I just need to enter into the experience with full presence and trust. Trust is very necessary in this way of life as it releases the mind’s efforts to control the outcome, and to make decisions based on what I think I desire to happen. I walk blindly and trustingly backwards into and through these experiences with a viewpoint of the past where the pieces come together like a jigsaw. Only this is a complex multidimensional jigsaw without a predetermined picture to follow!
If you ever did those dot to dot pictures as a child, you’ll have an idea of what I mean here. Sometimes it’s not until most of the dots have been joined that you get a clear idea of what picture will be revealed.
We can look at an acorn and have some idea of what kind of tree it could grow into, but we cannot predict how that will turn out as it encounters the challenges of the environment. All too often we want to predict – we have to live with the constant pressure of seeking certainty – and in so doing we can lose some of the magic of the unknown.
The beauty and synchronicity revealed when a pattern becomes clear is striking. I experience moments when I can understand how all the pieces fit together, and why I had the experiences in the order that I did, no matter how illogical or senseless it appeared to be at the time. There is an extraordinary organisation behind it, however I might choose to define it – creative life force, Source or even God. This is what is revealed in fractal images.
Why should we be any different to a fern or tree or sunflower in which we can see the fractal patterns so clearly? I have discovered these natural patterns in operation within my own life through surrendering control and trusting.
What is revealed goes beyond what my conscious mind could have planned out from the starting position, with its relatively limited viewpoint. Although I can understand my past I am also to a very real extent trapped by it, because once I have expectations based on experience, those are going to dominate and influence what I perceive and think. Even imagination is based in what is known and cannot fly completely free. If you try to imagine a one-dimensional world, or a place that has no time (no past, future or present) you probably come up against the limits of your 3 dimensional perspective.
Surrendering control and trusting to the guidance of my strategy and authority, so that life can be walked backwards, has revealed the unimaginable beauty. There is much joy and love to be experienced through surrendering to this creative force.
With the Future Behind Them: Convergent Evidence From Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construals of Time
Rafael E. Núñez, Eve Sweetser
Department of Cognitive Science, University of California at San Diego
Department of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley
Received 9 November 2004; received in revised form 1 July 2005; accepted 26 October 2005