Thirty-one weeks after the second day of the new year
Author looked back at her last few posts, and they’re so very serious and pragmatic. She recognizes that this one will also be serious, because that’s who she is, but she thinks the pragmatic can move aside for one post. How about a bit more philosophical one this week? Author will try, let’s see how it goes.
A few days ago Author found herself in a contemplation of sorts, following an interview in which she was asked what she would tell a younger version of herself. She racked her brain but couldn’t find an answer she would be satisfied with, and that’s simply because this isn’t something she would want to do. She doesn’t think about going back to her younger self, trying to change the past. Do you?
Whatever you think of your past, whether you see it as good and perceive it to be a supporting foundation of your life as it is now, or whether you’ve rejected it completely, wanting everything to be different, it has played a decisive role in who you are, in the life you lead, and in what you do, your work. What you want for yourself, personally and professionally, and the steps you take to attain it, have to do with your past. What you aspire to have that is different from what you had, and what you aspire to have that is the same, are a function of what you did or didn’t have in your past. Unfortunately, what we perceive as bad stays with us more than the good. We think more about things that we regret happened to us and things that we regret we did, than about good moments, positive events. We also tend to second guess ourselves even though decisions applied in the past were made under circumstances that might have justified them.
The way Author sees is—and she admits that this insight took her a long time to reach—you can live in regret, or you can live. How’s that for a philosophy? And yet, it’s a fact. You cannot go back. And what if you could? How do you know what to regret, anyway? How do you know that what you want to take out of the equation isn’t the one parameter that must not be taken out, no matter how certain you are that if that one thing had been different your life would have been better? Cause and effect might be a way to say it. Perhaps. Philosophical, wasn’t that what Author said this post would be?
What you can do is take who you are now, the result of your life so far, and be the writer it makes you. Not a writer? Do what you can with what you have, and if you don’t like what you do strive to do different. Remember that there are many ways to advance, to attain a better life. Stop looking to what you can’t do, look to what you can do. Stop regretting what you can’t change, change what you can: your tomorrow.
And yes, Author and Sister too are applying this same lesson to their life. This same philosophy, since that is how Author called it. They’re striving to look forward, apply all that they have learnt and all that the past has taught them, in all realms of life. And here Author will go back to writing for a moment, since that is what she does, and that is where she can explain herself best. And she once again trusts the non-writers among you to apply her meaning to yourselves, to what you do. So here it is: Author recognizes that she is the writer she is because of the person she is. And she is the person she is because of the life she’s had, her experiences. Her choices, good and bad. Things that happened to her, or that she saw others go through. The knowledge she has accumulated and her need to add to it, the curiosity in her. Her past as it was did that, together with her personality, the way it evolved over the years. Would she tell you she wouldn’t change anything? Of course not. But then, Author wouldn’t want to change who she is as a writer, either. The care she takes with her stories, the way she chooses her words and fashions them together into sentences, paragraphs, a whole manuscript. The way she constructs every character, every scene, every experience and event. The way her voice as a writer is evolving. These are all the product of everything that she is, her past included.
So how about this: instead of thinking about meeting yourself in your yesterday, about what you might have been able to change in your today, think about meeting yourself in your tomorrow. Because this will happen. You are making your way to who you are in the future with every passing moment. So make sure you do it while looking forward, and do what you can to move toward the life that you want. Chart a course that will make you proud of yourself, don’t let time go by while constantly looking back with regret, and missing more life along the way. Don’t walk to your future with your back turned to it and your eyes on the past. Hold your head high, look forward, and do your best with every step.
Philosophical, pragmatic, or a mix of both? Either way, the tip this post leads to is this: we all need to be reminded once in a while to let go of the past we can’t change and keep our eyes on the future we can have. Don’t wake up in a year and realize you’ve been so busy regretting that you’re still exactly where you were a year ago, and have another year to regret. Do what you do, do it the best you can, and take a step to a better future.