We have all done it, and some of us still occasionally do. We live our lives looking out the rear window, while we watch the ever lengthening road of yesteryear disappear in the distance. Our eyes strain to see all the milestone moments of success, or fixate on those we considered failures, or places we feel we made a wrong turn.
We begin to obsess over the “would’ve beens”, “could’ve beens”, or “should’ve beens”. If I had only said this or that. If I hadn’t done one thing or another. Or even, what if I had done it. All the possibilities of a life unlived appear as shadows in the mist.
The fact of the matter is the past no longer exists. There is nothing there to see, but shadows of all the once was. It can’t be changed, no matter how much we might engage in such wishful thinking. The most difficult part of the journey is acceptance; accepting that we don’t live there anymore.
Our current place of residence, or stop on the road of life, is the here and now; this present moment. The only useful thing to do is to look in the mirror and accept what we see as the all of everything that is. It doesn’t matter if you are twenty-something or eighty-something or greater in years than even eighty; you are at your starting point.
For many years, I sat across the desk from the desperate. I would listen to their stories of how they came to be where they are. Some were tragic. Some were stories of youthful, and not so youthful, missteps. Some were stories of heartache and grief. Nonetheless, not one of their stories could be changed.
Each of them, in spite of their pasts, had to come to the realization that the only thing they could control was the moment in which they lived. What would they do next to reach a greater level of satisfaction in life? The only thing I could do was guide them along the explorations of what might yet be. We worked out needs, wants, desires, passions and hopes for better days.
Some followed through on their goals and missions in life, others fell along the wayside; a few of them even died. The one thing that made the difference for those who successfully created new lives was acceptance. They no longer lived in the past. They kept their eyes on the goal ahead and made each cautious baby step until they were confident enough to take life in greater strides.
I’ll never say the road is easy. It certainly hasn’t been for me. But, the one thing I do know is the road of life only travels in one direction – forward.