“Stop acting as if like is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” — Wayne Dyer, American motivational speaker and author
The bumper of my old car was comprised mostly of chromed rust so when I positioned the jack to change the tire, the result was disastrous.
The bumper held together long enough for me to remove the back tire before sending everything crashing to the ground. I stumbled backwards, nearly falling onto my backside.
The loose tire wobbled toward me then toppled over. Behind me I could hear the sound of applause. My wife had left a few minutes prior to chat with neighbours across the road. They had been relaxing in lawn chairs with a bottle of red wine. I turned to see my wife and neighbours raising wine glasses in my honour.
This tired piece of Mopar Muscle had been my travelling companion since high school. Now, 30 years and a half-million kilometers later, we had reached the end of the road. There were rust holes in the fenders and the floorboards. The doors no longer opened nor closed easily or properly. Wind howled through the side windows, making conversation nearly impossible.
To me the “old girl” as it became known, was more than a car. It was a symbol of my evolution. The car had valiantly squired me to school and work, transported girlfriends to drive-in movies, carried my wife and me to church for our wedding and bore the family halfway across Canada when I accepted a new job.
My wife had been rushed to the hospital in the car when she’d yelled, “It’s time!” and all of our precious babies had been delivered safely home afterward.
I suppose on some level, when I drove the car, I was a teenager again with all my life ahead of me. When I cranked tunes on the stereo it was the 1970s and life was a grand adventure yet to unfold. I read something once about attachments to the distant and provincial world of our youth. My old car was my attachment to the past – a past I had been loath to leave behind. Delivering it reluctantly to the auto wreckers was a proclamation – tangible proof of my desire to let go of the past and to start living in the moment. The “old girl” would eventually be crushed and her metal body reclaimed so that she could again serve a useful purpose.
When we have an attachment to a person, place or thing from the past, it often blinds us to the magic and the opportunity that exists in the now – in the moment at hand. Some people spend their days longing for the past and become stuck.
Others spend time regretting the past and become equally mired. When we anchor ourselves in the past, we can no longer fully experience the present. Perhaps you’ve had a frightening experience in the past and you’ve now projected that fear into the future as a means of avoiding it.
You’re constantly on guard. Conversely, the past may represent the “good old days” to you and you long to live them all over again. If such is the case, ask yourself if you truly appreciated the “days” when you where living them.
Someone gave me a piece of advice that has served me well and that is, “These are the good old days.” Live each moment to the fullest. Be in each moment. Experience each moment. All we have is the now with no guarantee of anything beyond the moment.
Certainly, if we fail to acknowledge the past, especially the lessons of the past, we’re likely to be repeating the same mistakes. History is replete with such examples. s
However, there is a vast difference between acknowledging lessons and cherishing memories from the past and becoming fixated or locked into a relentless longing for the people and events of a bygone time.
Polish-born British novelist and short story writer George W. Ball once wrote, “Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared, “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.”
Let the past be a point of interest, a source of knowledge, and a fascinating reminder of where we have been and how far we have come. Let this moment be the place to drop anchor.
Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.