The full moon glowed through the tree branches until it came into full view, lighting up the front range of the Rocky Mountains with a magnificent orange glow. Then it dawned on me, nothing stands still. The moon rotates around the earth and the earth around the sun and our little solar system spins in constant motion and perfect harmony with an uncountable and ever expanding number of planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and more.
And you too; you are in constant motion, even while sitting still. The question is, do you move forward or backward? The answer is: it depends on which way you look.
Looking backward does have value. You may have heard it said before: You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve come from. That is certainly true, looking back helps you know your personal heritage and whether or not you want to revise or extend that legacy. A look backward can also show you the need to mend a damaged relationship, heal a broken heart, or clear up some unfinished business.
But looking back can also be paralyzing. Some folks are stuck in the past. They stay there because for them, the past is better than the present, or at least, it’s more comfortable, less risky and not as demanding.
While some look backward to review their days of glory, others look at the past to relive mistakes and review missed opportunities. That kind of constant backward look is truly hurtful. Here’s why: when you dwell on the past too much it clouds your vision of the future and inhibits personal growth.
Your future has two possibilities: it will be decided either by design or by fate. If your future is by design that means it’s up to you. If it’s by fate it means you’re willing to allow your peers, parents, or worst of all, the government, to run your life. How fun does that sound?
I’m sure you know this is true: The future is where you’re going to live so you better look forward and create your vision of your future or someone else will. Ask yourself, “What do I want my future to look like?” Then ask, “What must I do to make that future happen?”
Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? At first you just wanted to sit on it and try to keep it up-right. That didn’t work too well, did it? You quickly discovered the best way to maintain balance and ride safely was to make it move forward. It’s a lesson for life. You have to make your bike (your life) move forward or you crash. Your mom or dad can run beside you and hold on for awhile, but eventually they must let go and set you free.
And that’s the way it is right now. I honestly believe that 80% of your life is up to you. Sure your past may have harmed you or it could have been glorious, but it’s not where you are today and tomorrow is where you must live.
Which way are you looking? If you’re spending too much time in the past either reliving your glory or reviewing its shame, change the direction you look. Don’t look back, look forward.
- Don’t Get By, Get Going!
- Ben Franklin’s Habitude of Virtues