You and me both, John Lennon.
A former best friend, currently a life mentor to many, tells his followers to never look back. The key to future success, he believes, is to move forward and forget the past.
Now, I’m not one for wallowing in my mistakes, or sitting starry-eyed in my victories from long ago, but his advice strikes me as—well, wrong-headed.
Seems intuitive that consulting history every now and again can tell us when we’re veering off-course and place us on right paths toward future success. I mean, aren’t solutions to thorny problems sometimes camouflaged in the past, calling out for new discovery and understanding?
Can’t we learn from where we’ve been and be better for it? And, what about re-enjoying treasured memories of great pleasures and beloved friends, over and over? Allowing the many laughs that have been stored away to bubble up again.
Spoiler alert. I write historical novels, so I’m enamored by stories rooted in our past.
For example, until I wrote a book about it, I had no clue that the common bicycle changed the fashion world forever in the 1890s, accelerating the women’s emancipation movement toward the vote. Likewise, it wasn’t until I read the book A Fever in the Heartland that I learned that the KKK grew to such national proportions in the 1920s, the country almost elected one of its members as our Vice President.
How do we track our progress (or lack thereof) against racism, antisemitism, and the attack on family values if we don’t ponder the past and set new courses.
Karen and I recently celebrated our 50th anniversary, made rich by the accumulation of joys and, yes, difficult trials. What an amazing journey to look back upon. To remember. Our life has been stitched together in a grand tapestry that warms us on blustery winter days in the Pacific Northwest.
We have full memory banks, much to recall. Blessings beyond what we ever hoped for and sadness that still seeks to rob our joy but fails to overtake God’s grace in our lives. I’m called to remember it all.
My point is, we gain so much by evaluating from whence we came. Won’t the future be better by recognizing the collective wisdom we’ve been granted?
A beloved pastor in our former church taught Karen and me the age-old Ignatian practice of the examento foster spiritual growth in one’s life. There’s a lot to it, but in a nutshell it’s a means of prayerfully examining one’s emotions, actions, and encounters with others. On a daily, monthly, even annual basis.
Anyway, while on vacation, the morning after each day, with strong coffee in hand, we review yesterday’s experiences—most interesting person, best taste, what you’d rather forget. You get the idea. The day before comes alive again and give us a fresh perspective on the day to come.
I love visuals of choppy waters and lighthouse beacons. A beam of light brings us out of life’s uncertainty to the safety of the shore. Symbolic for me, as the light brings me closer to the man I long to become. The Bible tells us to remember more than 250 times. Sure, remembering can be painful, but pain can guide us through the darkest tunnels toward emotional, spiritual, and physical healing.
I wish my old friend good things in his life, for I long to remember the good times, not just the detours and loss.
I miss him.
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