Hindsight is not always twenty-twenty.
We often look to the past, look to what has come before, and we think we see it in perfect clarity, now, after all that has occurred.
But in truth, more often than we probably realize, hindsight gets colored by nostalgia, by wistfulness, by a sense that it was oh-so-good and can’t ever be that good again, but it really should be.
The past is past. Period. What was is done, gone, and no more. Yes, we can get nostalgic for “simpler, happier times” as we may think we remember them. But have you ever noticed how remembering those times we ignore the less salient aspects of them?
I have been doing medieval reenactment for more than twenty years. I enjoy getting dressed up in the garb of a long-past era. We celebrate some cool activities and ceremonies and arts and sciences. Sometimes we joke about having been born in the wrong era, even.
What we are ignoring, however, was the vast number of people that lived in poverty, the horrific, untreated diseases that wiped out an unbelievable amount of the population, discrimination and hatred and religious intolerance that led to crusades across two continents, and a truly massive gulf between the rich and the poor.
It’s fun to play in the positive aspects of a bygone era. Lots of different reenactors out there spending weekends being someone from a long-past time.
In our everyday lives, however, we need to let the past stay in the past, and we need to focus on the now. This is how we can choose the paths we want to take, and manifest the life we want to have.
Looking back, we often see a rose colored view of what was. Yes, sometimes hindsight is twenty-twenty in how we learn what we should not have done. Sometimes the lesson learned allows us to see completely clearly how to avoid erring in the same manner in the now, and that aspect of twenty-twenty hindsight serves us well.
It is all too easy to get caught up in looking to the past for the good, inspiring things that have happened in our lives, and wistfully wish for the same in the now, and the future.
This gets slightly more complicated when we recognize that who we are right now, at this very moment, is a product of who we were. Yes, really.
What I was thinking about, how I was perceiving myself last month, last week, yesterday goes into making me the person I am today. What and how I thought of myself consistently over an unspecified amount of past time is what makes me who I am at this exact moment in time.
How does that work? If you manifest your life based on a combination of thought, feeling and intentional actions it only logically goes to follow that the you in existence right this moment was made from material in the past.
That being the case, it makes very little sense to use materials of the past, such as old thoughts and feelings and actions, in present awareness to make the future you. That’s not to say you can’t take lessons from your past to better build the future with present awareness…the caution is to not try to go back to what was.
Because the past needs to remain in the past, it is in our best interest in the here-and-now to create something new for the future. Nostalgia is all well and good, but you can’t live off of it, and you can’t bring it back because it will not be like it was before.
Certain members of our society are obsessed with the notion of remaking our world to be as it was before. They want to go back to a time some fifty or sixty years ago in a world they think was happier, simpler, fuller of faith and family and goodness and wholesomeness. What they are ignoring is the rather massive negative aspects of that era, such as the vast inequality, the fear mongering, xenophobia, racism and other ugly truths.
We can learn from the past, but we cannot return to it. Nor should we. Every day our world changes, most often subtly, but from time to time drastically. Individually, we may each be a product of our past thoughts, feelings and actions, but in the here-and-now we can be conscious of these and choose today who we will be tomorrow.
Now if I am perfectly content with who I am right here and now, then I should probably continue to use these same thoughts and emotions and actions. But if I want something different of my life, then I need to use this moment in the here-and-now to shift what I am thinking, how I am feeling and the actions I am intentionally taking therein.
Why is this always so complicated? Truth is, it’s not. Sometimes it is certainly easier to just let life happen, and to not take control of the things that allow us to choose the life we actually want. Mindfulness and awareness can require some extra focus, but the reward is that if we are discontent with our present circumstances we can work on changing them for tomorrow.
“Time is the reef upon which all our frail mystic ships are wrecked.” Noel Coward’s mystic Madame Arcati utters this phrase in the play Blithe Spirit, and it houses one central truth. All of our ideas, all of our plans and goals and intentions will crash upon our personal perceptions of time. When we accept this truth, we have a better ability to understand the importance of present awareness in choosing our paths and manifesting our personal destinies.
Hindsight is not always twenty-twenty. The past is past, and though it goes into making our now, this moment we have the ability to use our awareness to better create ourselves for tomorrow. Pathwalking is choice, and choice empowers us to find what we want for our lives.
Are you aware of yourself in the here-and-now?
This is the one-hundred ninety seventh entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my personal desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Feel free to re-blog and share. Thank you for joining me.