We are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. . . . We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.-Joan Didion
I used to be a lot different than I am now. And I can honestly say that the person I was five years ago definitely wasn’t the same person I was fifteen years ago. I live, I learn, I change. And as I go on living, I somehow keep on forgetting lessons that I learned before, and I find that I have to make some of the same mistakes, sometimes worse and sometimes not as bad as before, just to relearn lessons that I’ve already “learned.”
How annoying is that?
If we can keep in our minds the people that we were years ago, we’ll have a much better chance of keeping in mind those lessons that were so important to us. We learn those lessons supposedly so that we won’t have to repeat the same mistakes over and over, but guess what? If we forget who we were, we’ll forget the lessons that we learned. If we don’t keep in mind the persons that we’ve been, then we won’t ever have the benefit of that person’s knowledge.
When I look back on years gone by in my life, there’s plenty for me to be embarrassed about. I made plenty of mistakes that hurt other people or that were just ridiculous. But if I reject who I was and never revisit my past, those lessons run the risk of being buried in my used-to-be, and they become useless in my here-and-now. Sometimes I think about the past on purpose, kind of to try to show some sympathy to the person I used to be–it does help me now–and kind of to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for in my life today.
Questions to ponder:
1. Why would we want to leave behind our pasts and not revisit them?
2. How can we go about remembering important things from yesteryear?
3. What kinds of benefits might we find if we were to give respect to our pasts?
For further thought:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.-George Santayana