It has been said you should never look back…you’re not going that way. As is my usual, I have a slightly different perspective on that. I’ve often looked back in order to understand why certain things have happened and why I had to go through a particular situation. Many times it’s brought me some real enlightenment.
This week I turned 72. As I approached that special day, I found myself thinking about people, places, and events that have transpired over those years. Not in a way where I was wishing I was still such-and-such an age or thinking, with regret, about all the things I could have done better. Instead, I found myself fondly remembering even those times that were “troubling” and how that helped me become the person I am now.
Could I have handled some things better, been more level-headed in some cases, or walked away instead of stepping hip-deep into some really crappy situations? Without a doubt. I was younger, less experienced, sometimes emotionally unbalanced in my responses to people and situations. Should I feel regret, guilt, or shame? I don’t think so.
Life is a process. Most of us learn by experience. You can tell a small child to not touch the hot stove, in an effort to keep them safe, but until that small child touches the stove and really understands, for the first time, why you told them not to touch it, will they know not to touch it again. That doesn’t stop even as we grow into our teens and then adult years. In that respect, Life, and the experiences it presents us with, is the best teacher we shall ever have.
Some experiences repeat over and over again, with a different cast of characters, until we get the point. We ask ourselves, “Why does this keep happening to me?” not realizing there’s something about this type of situation we’re just not getting. I know. I’ve been one of those people. I’ve been married four times (neither bragging or complaining). It took me decades to realize why the things that kept happening in my relationships were happening over and over again. Looking back, reviewing the scope of each relationship, taking a deep breath and bravely digging through the details while not looking to put blame on anyone, one day I finally realized what kept “going wrong.” It was only then that I had a chance of breaking the pattern. Obviously, I was able to do something to change that pattern because I have been in this last relationship for 30 years – longer than the other three added together.
For other people, that repeating lesson may be about relationships (including with parent, friends, siblings, etc.) but it might also have to do with money or a job/career, health or something else. No matter what it is, until we learn what we’re supposed to learn from it, it will probably keep repeating it in our lives until we do. I think that’s why it’s important to ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach me?” rather than “Why me?” Then, if you realize that this is a repeating pattern, it may be a good time to look back into the past when it’s happened before and see if you can identify some detail that’s the same in each. That’s probably the lesson. Get that…really get it, and the pattern is broken and doesn’t repeat any more.
There’s another reason to look back at the past though. Sometimes we need a fond memory to lift our spirits and change our vibes when we’re going through a rough patch. I use the word touchstone to refer to those memories. It’s a moment from your history that always brings a smile to your face and even a calmness to your being. I borrow it from a book written by the late Lynn Grabhorn entitled, Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting. An excellent book for those who are looking for ways to change their current life and life patterns.
We all have bad times, past and present, but we also have good times in our past that can be used to help raise us up when we most need it. Call it a form of “magick” or healing. Something that makes you smile, immediately elevates your vibration, thus changing what you attract into your life. Call it your own personal rabbit’s foot. Believe me, it works.
People often talk about wishing they were younger. Don’t think it’s never crossed my mind. I would never want to be a teenager again – way too much emotional havoc and hormones. I think I would pick somewhere between 32 and 35. That was a time in my life when I had a lot of enjoyable spiritual things going on, including learning about and discovering who I really was/am. Truth be told, I’m okay with 72. The outside may be aging, but inside I feel as alive as I did back in my 30s. Yeah, if I could go back, the body would be less creaky and less flabby. That would be nice. Now, however, I have a hard time wrapping my head around being 72, since I feel the same inside.
So, for me, looking back is done without regrets but rather with some awe and amazement that I’ve made it this far and learned so much. I’m looking forward to what Life has in store for me in the coming year and, hopefully, many more years after that. My advice to you: look back every once in a while. It’s true you aren’t going that way, but sometimes we really need to see where we’ve come from to appreciate where we are right now and look with hope to the future.
Wishing you all many, many years of hope and happiness!