I just turned fifty-five years old eleven days ago. Fifty-five. I kept trying to wrap my head around that age and then I started thinking back to where I’ve been, what I’ve done, the things I hadn’t done, the things I can’t go back and correct now….and just stop. Anyone recognize the little trap I just stepped into? No? Didn’t even notice? I’m wearing it on my foot right here on my boot (pointing down at right foot). It’s me, living in the past. Did you notice how one thing led to another which lead to another and another and another….all focused on way back there (thumb pointed over shoulder)? Yeah. There’s a problem there. I keep focus on the past, I keep forgetting to see and appreciate what is right here in my face. Nor do I have an eye fixed to the horizon to see what may potentially arise in the near future.
s to what you have done is a nice thing to do occasionally, after all, its a great way to have a quick look into experiences and see what you can draw from that. It is, after all, one of the ways that we learn: looking back to what we’ve done before and applying that experience to something we are trying for the first time. But remember that those applications of technique are not necessarily the same as what you need to apply now. You may need to adjust things a little to make it work. Or just utilize the theory of “why” you did that back then and apply that to now, knowing that the actual application will look nothing like what you did before.
In Your Studies
One place where constantly looking backward
s has a tendency to trip me up is in my own Ovate studies. I have spent a lot of time trying to compare the techniques that I utilized in my Bardic studies to what I should be doing in my Ovate studies. Well, Bardic studies are Bardic studies. Ovate studies are Ovate studies. Trying to lay a blueprint of one over the other is just silly. Taken in a different context, you are not going to study for your American History up until 1835 college class the same way you are going to prepare for a Realtor’s exam, right? It is nice; however, to look back on that Texas Government class that you took and nearly aced. It’s an achievement that you can really have pride in. But that nearly perfect class score (yes I did this. I managed to get every single point for my class, save four) is not going to allow you to pass a mathematics course you take the next semester. Focus on the here and now to accomplish what needs to be done.
In Your Mundane Life
The same concept holds true in other parts of your life too. Remember how you fixed that clogged drain in the bathtub? That was great. You did a few things you had read about elsewhere, then applied the clogged drain stuff and it worked. But that one achievement isn’t going to mean anything should you forget to take out the over-flowing trash can. That fixed drain might turn you into an overnight hero to your significant other, but that isn’t going to make up for the missed trash pickup. Yes, even in your job or career, you might make the big catch that saves the company millions. However, you slip a few deadlines and your reputation within the company is going to take a dive from that million-dollar hero status.
What Have You Done Lately?
Sure, I get it – this has the sounds of the ‘What have you done for me lately?” overtone. Except that it doesn’t have to. This is not really about throwing the Past into the garbage can and moving on to the next thing. I know it seems like it is, but its really not. This is about focusing on the results that need to be completed now. About making progress on your journey.
Every single one of us has taken those trips to the touristy locations. We have all seen the telescopes planted here and there that let you look into the distance for a quarter, or whatever denomination you can think of. Think about constantly looking into the Past in the same vein. You have stopped moving forward in whatever you are doing and you are taking that time to reminisce about what happened. Or maybe, you’re taking a moment to play out a “What-If” scenario in your mind. That stuff is ok from time to time. Nine Hells, its ok to stop, take a step back, and turn around to see where you have come from. But if you spend nearly forever doing that….you’re going nowhere. Your feet are firmly planted where you are. Take that momentary stop, but remember that you need to also keep going.
Looking Forward But Not Moving
Now, there is also the chance of looking forward and seeing everything that needs to be done and getting stuck in what analysts call “paralysis-by-analysis” mode. Where you spend moment after moment looking forward and trying to plot out all the directions and possibilities so that you know where to go, how to do it, and what to do when this or that might happen. Welcome to my world.
I am an extremely calculating individual. My analytical world is a pure flow-chart in my brain. Or, if you live in a programming world like I tend to do in my usual work-flow, its purely a Visio diagram. If this -> then this -> if not then this. That shit is cute outside of work, but it also keeps you from doing what you need to do. Sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind, leave the calculated odds behind, and just move forward. Otherwise, you can find yourself not moving forward at all and losing out on chances of a lifetime. Other times, you have to ignore the calculated odds and take the damn jump – no matter how scary it may seem.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Now, let me return to something I usually state in nearly every blog post I write. This is my perspective, my understanding of living my life. Essentially, through this blog, I am living “out loud” – providing you aspects of what I have done, what I thought, what I am thinking as I type this….that doesn’t mean that I am saying this is the ONLY way to think. I am a strong believer in the individualistic aspect of each person. We all have our own choices to make. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others. But the only absolute I will provide for you is this – follow your heart. Your Passion is important in life, in my opinion.
So, looking backward
s to the Past is a good thing. Until you are doing it so much that you are going nowhere. Looking forwards to the future is not a bad thing either. Until you over-analysis everything, trying to remove some of the surprises that you may encounter. Those surprises might be the life experiences that you absolutely need to experience to move forward in another aspect of your life. The overall point is to be in the here and now. To not make everything in life into a calculated risk or into some flow-charted diagram in your head as is my tendency. Sure, removing the calculated risks may remove some of the bumps and bruises that you will encounter, but you will also miss out on some spectacular moments as well. Forget about what you HAVE or MAY HAVE missed. Take that step into the unknown and experience what you want.
Finally, one of my favorite movies is “The Dead Poet’s Society” with the late Robin Williams. The movie is about taking chances, finding your passion, and going forward with life. Not waiting for something to happen. Not conforming for the sake of conformity, but really living life. Without the flowcharts, without the calculated risks, and without the super-long glances at the Past. The here and the now…..if you have not seen the movie, give it a watch. Every couple of years, I’ll sit down and watch it…just to remember that Life is about taking risks.
I do not often look back. I find it fairly pointless, for most things. I experience a thing, decide whether I liked it or not, and toss out everything I deem unimportant. See, most of my past is trauma-related. From abandonment to all forms of abuse, I’ve lived a few lives in this single life. So when it comes to things from my past, I’m pretty ruthless about tossing things. I may end up with a fairly barebones, ramshackle frame of experience to carry forward but my theory is that I’m lighter.
I have a tendency of jumping from cliffs, often with no parachute. If I carry all that baggage I plummet, but if I’m light then I have a greater chance to coast on thermals until I can safely land.
That isn’t to say that the past is pointless. I do carry some things on, mostly in how I mentally process things. I’m far more willing to give grace to others when I don’t know their story, their trauma that is influencing their current actions. I’m more willing to slow down and stretch out a hand while I coast, to help them find their own wind current to raise them up. But show me hateful living and you’ll find yourself relegated to my past. Things wither and die in my past because I don’t gaze upon them, study them, or give them anything to thrive on. I will nurture the lessons I learned, but nothing more.
Some will say this is foolhardy. And that’s okay. Their opinion is valid for them. I found that carrying too much baggage, looking too often into my past, caused my depression to spiral out of control. So instead, I carry only the bare minimum with me and have no problem cutting people out of my life if they relegate themselves to my past. You don’t want to grow with me? Cool, but do it over there where you’re not pulling me down in your stagnation. Unless you’re part of my soul. Then I drag you kicking and screaming into the sun, walk you to the cliff, and teach you to jump.