The other night I read something on The Gospel According to Facebook - an acquaintance of mine put up a status asking: 'How much of your future would you give up to relive one moment of your past?' My response was immediate, but as I mulled over the question for the remainder of the evening it occurred to me that not too very long ago my response would have been wholly different; before, I would have traded in a heartbeat.
It is frighteningly common for human beings to dwell on the past, and it all comes back to the age-old saying - 'The grass is always greener on the other side.' Since we don't know what's ahead of us, it's only natural that we should run to what's behind, often-times with memories far rosier than the reality ever was.
The depressing part is that when we were in that place we're looking back at so wistfully now, we were probably, at the time, looking back further to an even 'better' place. It's a vicious cycle that can swallow up hope and purpose quicker than a hooker with no gag reflex.
The problem is we spend so much time looking longingly to the past that we become blind to wonderful moments happening right now, in the present. The past is past. Everything, everything, that happened there made you the person you are today and brought you to where you are right now, which is exactly where you need to be.
How can we ever move forward when we're looking back? We'd run into walls, we'd trip up and fall down. You're not going that way, so turn the hell around! The key (though sometimes easier said than done) is to learn to be grateful for everything in the past, even the really shite parts. Instead of running away from painful memories, sit with them, analyse them. Take from your experiences all the lessons that need to be learned until they're picked cleaner than a carcass in the Serengeti.
The only valid reason for looking back is to compare the old us with the current us to celebrate how far we've come, or so we can set goals to ensure we go further, learn more and grow. After all, the more we learn and experience, the richer, the greater the potential our future holds. As we grow and our experiences accumulate, there will always be new desires for us to chase. Some of them we may even catch. So isn't it comforting, doesn't it make one feel all fuzzy inside to know that some of the best days of our lives are yet to happen?
My immediate response to the post was, 'Not one second' and I truly mean that. I want all of my future. Every. Last. Minute of it. All the bad stuff that happened in the past is the price we pay for the future that's coming to us, so you can bet we damn well earned and deserve it.
Make peace with your past. Forgive those who hurt you, even if it's only in your own mind; you don't need to go around with a list like 'My Name is Earl', just let it go. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made; you're only human. Do things that make you happy now, so that the patch of grass you stand on is the greenest for years around. And remember: realism is just a socially acceptable form of pessimism; when you truly accept this you give yourself permission to dream the biggest, craziest, most amazing future that you wouldn't want to trade a second of.