Learn from the past, strive to shape the future, but live in the present.
Simple words, simple advice, but a complex balance to maintain. It’s all too easy to get caught living in the past and spend your time looking back at how great things used to be. Everyone has great memories of people we used to know or places we have been. It can provide a great amount of fun to look back at the way things were, to see how we used to be and where we have come from.
There are a great many lessons that we all learn along the way that can provide valuable information for us in our current lives. But, looking back is not without its perils. Much like a driver who takes too long to complete a shoulder check when changing lanes, if you don’t look at where you currently are and where you are going you are likely to end up crashing to the car in front of you. Glance back, get the information you need and then focus on the highway of life ahead of you. After all, the past is done and cannot be changed so you don’t gain by spending a lot of energy going there.
It’s also just as easy to spend your time looking to the future when you expect things to be better than what you have now. Perhaps it is a vacation that you are planning on taking next year, or you’re looking forward to retirement so you’ll have time to do the things you want. Maybe you’re searching for a change of careers or searching to find that special someone. Imagining the future is often even more fun than reliving past memories because you can bend and shape your future into whatever you want it to be.
Ah, but here lies the catch. Life is a single pathway we follow from birth to death. The path isn’t straight, it bends and curves in all sorts of directions. The destination is never visible to us, it remains obscured behind the landscaping and the topography. None of us is ever allowed to see what lies around the next bend in the path. Many times the bend in the pathway takes us to places we never imagined we could be — sometimes good, sometimes bad. No matter what comes we are forced to deal with it and carry on.
And, while we can only choose a single path to travel, there are intersections — we come across hundreds of them every day. Sometimes the path to follow is clearly marked, other times we don’t even see all of the different paths available to us. And, like the bends in the path, we’re not allowed to know what lies down each path. We must navigate blindly and make those decisions based on the best information we have at the present time.
Ah, the present time. That is sort of the whole point of this posting, isn’t it? With the lessons learned from the past and an idea of what we want our future to look like, we must choose our path and follow wherever it leads.
The present is all any of us are ever promised. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow.
The present is the only thing we have any sort of control over. It is the only moment in time where we get to have any choice in matters. Every moment is an opportunity to live life to its fullest potential, to make something special happen, to choose the type of person we want to be. And, in essense, it is our only chance to create our future past. Tomorrow this day — right now — will be the past. We will have had a chance to do something really great with it and make this one of those moments we look back on and enjoy. Use this time you have been given to create your past right now.
Just saw this link come across my Twitter feed from Scott Bourne, who is another one of those really great photographers I enjoy watching and learning from. He is basically talking about the same thing I am, he is just able to write it in a much more eloquent manner.
If you get a chance, read his take on living in the moment. Maybe it’s this photography passion I have developed lately that has made me so much more aware of the limited time we are given — I never thought of that before.