When does reverence for the past become an anchor weighing you down?
Just asking …
I am struck more these days by the number of people looking backward with more enthusiasm than looking ahead. You can see this in much of our political discussions, as well as in economic and societal topics.
Some folks think our best days are behind us, as a society, a country, and as individuals.
That is depressing … and probably not accurate.
Others over the years have done masterful jobs of puncturing the logic applied by those who desire to look back with wistfulness and longing, rather than charge ahead with courage and curiosity. However, the tendency still prevails, especially in times of turbulence, uncertainty, and fear.
Growing up in the Heartland, I was raised with a healthy respect for what has been. One of the distinguishing markers of our family was a willingness to take on the burden of keeping the local cemetery clean. I knew only a few of the people who lay underneath those heavy stone markers, but I was taught to carefully tread, to clean and pick up, and generally treat that resting place with deep respect.
Before the advent of 24/7 entertainment through glowing screens and digital displays, we spent much of our leisure time telling stories, which were often about what had happened in the past and who had come and gone before us.
The very earth I walked every day held history, with names and events etched into my awareness, many of which I still carry today. A trip back to the homestead produces a river of remembrances …
As a worker, I have toiled at organizations and in buildings which no longer exist, but whose ghostly images lie buried in my memory, emerging every now and then to remind me of what was at one time.
As a person, I have watched those who I care deeply about grow, mature, and sometimes die.
This question of when all the memories and memorializing become a problem still weights on me, though. I came up with three possible guidelines to help me determine when my past is outweighing my presence and my future:
When reviewing the past, make sure you are considering what really happened, instead of an idealized and fictional past.
When looking backward, remember that time is still going forward. Watch your steps where you are going, not where you have been.
The past can provide much in the way of inspiration and enthusiasm, but ONLY if you apply that energy toward the present and the future.
Trying to maintain my reverence, while always looking forward to what is coming in the Heartland …
Image: Peter Ellis on the English Wikipedia project took this picture – Copied from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:AS_HMAS_Canberra_1.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=220856