Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The past should never be forgotten, especially for avoiding a repeat of valuable lessons learned the hard way. There is an old saying that those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. “Doomed” giving a negative connotation to the saying, with a positive spin of not repeating the negativity. Some might argue, depending on their particular experience, that the past is best forgotten. I suppose there is merit in both philosophies...but how does one go forward if their constant fixation is on...or in, the past?
If my recent observations are any indication of an answer to this question, then someone living within this situation is having a very hard time indeed. Life is change. Wait...let me amend that, life is constant change. With every moment that passes there is some kind of change taking place. People are a part of that change and those most cognizant of the changes effecting them tend to adapt a bit better than those that are unprepared or unconcerned. Then there are those willfully resistant to the inevitable changes of life...and when a fixation is developed on a point in the past, the contradiction to the present is troublingly evident.
See...the past is fixed. A past event cannot be changed. The people we knew in the past, have already changed (such is the nature of life) so if a choice is made to fixate on a past event, or person of the past...then focus is lost and distorted. How many times has it been said and heard of a desire to have a person “back?” To have them return to a point they were at in the past. Just think about that for a moment. It really doesn’t make any sense. None of us can become exactly who we were in our past since every moment between then and now has only served to do exactly one thing through our experiences...change us.
What becomes of all the energy put into a past fixation? Well...it’s wasted, on a fixed unchanging point. My personal philosophy is such energy would be better used exploring that same person, in the present (provided that’s something that is desired). It’s more of a “I remember who you were, but who are you now?” After all, any interactions with that person will be an interaction in the present with whomever they have become...not who they used to be. Some reading this might think this is all very elementary, and it is...for some of us. Sadly there are those that are having a hard time grasping this fundamental reality.
Nostalgia...we all get a taste of it at some point, for something. Every now and then a backward look is given and invites warm and welcome feelings. Sometimes that look invites a renewed sadness. Whatever the case, for our own mental and emotional health, it must remain a “look” and not become a thousand-yard stare. When that happens, like staring in real time, things are still going on around us that we might miss because we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes those things are things we really didn’t want to miss. That’s why a glance in every direction serves very well to paint a complete picture of what is going on around us.
Let me put it another way. Before crossing the street, we were taught to look both ways. It is good advice, especially if traffic flows in both directions. Now imagine keeping your gaze fixated directly ahead of you (or worse, just walking backwards) while you step off the curb and continue into a busy intersection. Needless to say, bad things will happen. It’s the same when someone stays fixated on a point in the past, as they step off the curb and continue into the busy intersection of the present. Bad things happen.
Being blindsided by a speeding truck is, more often than naught, fatal. Being blindsided by the speeding conditions of the present, while not normally fatal, can be very unpleasant. Yes, if my observations are any indication, I would have to say that you could fast forward, and look toward the future...while keeping an eye on the present. You can’t past forward...that’s like walking backwards off a cliff you never saw coming. It’s not the fall that kills you...it’s the sudden stop.