Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 19, 2013

ROOT: Living in the past

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “If you spend too much time looking back, then you may miss what is right in front of you.”

I forgot who told me that, but it is something that I never forgot. I remember it not because it is prophetic in any way. I remember it because of how wrong it can be. I am constantly asked why I prefer to live in the past with just about everything I do. I don’t listen to music that was recorded past 1992, I watch television shows that peaked in the 1970’s and most of my favorite movies were all made before 1980.

Most of my life is spent trying to avoid responsibility so I can live with the same carefree attitude I had in the 70’s when I was a young boy growing up in a small world. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen what the modern era has to offer and, aside from some very cool movies, there isn’t a lot that I feel I am missing out on.

The notion that you should always look forward and never look back is fraught with inaccuracies. First of all; whatever happened to learning from the past? If we are intent upon not making the same mistakes that were made years ago, then shouldn’t we remember those mistakes and the lessons we have learned from them? It only makes sense.

What about formulating a decision based on life experiences? People say that experience is the best teacher, yet these same people say that we should look to the future and ignore the past. To me, that does not make any sense. I am just not one of those people that can separate my future from my past. Over the years, I have learned to trust the lessons that experience has to offer.

But there are downsides to living in the past. One of the biggest downsides is holding a grudge. Sometimes I find myself holding a grudge over something that happened years ago. In my opinion; if I can still remember it, then it is worth holding onto. It is just one of those defense mechanisms I have that will not go away. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it gets in the way. But it has saved me too many times for me to try and let go of it.

You can’t learn anything from events in the future. By the time you learn from something, that event is already in the past. That was pretty prophetic, albeit not very sensible. You can plan for something, but the only way you will learn from it is to take the experiences you have gained by the time it is over.

My memories are some of the things I cherish the most. I like my memories because no one can take them from me. The things I remember are the things that I can refer to on a regular basis and relive them whenever I want. I am one of those weird people that relives the bad along with the good. I find that it helps to remind myself of the dangers I have overcome along with remembering my personal accomplishments as well.

There is nothing wrong with setting your focus on the future. Some of our greatest thinkers lived to find out what will happen tomorrow. I kind of admire that. I wish I could look forward to tomorrow as much as I treasure yesterday. But I just am not wired that way. There is plenty for me to look forward to these days and I look forward to all of it. But it is the accumulated images in my head from days gone by that I hold onto the strongest.

Never forget your past and never make a decision in the future without consulting the past first. I believe that there is a reason for everything. You go through your personal challenges to help make you a better person going forward. It is true that what happened in your past will definitely define who you are in the future.

To me, that is not the same thing as letting the past hold you back. When you face something new, you call on your personal experiences to try and figure out how to deal with the new challenge. If your experience tells you to walk away, then that is just good use of lessons learned in life.

Don’t get too caught up in what will happen tomorrow. Just work as hard as you can to make sure that whatever happened yesterday will give you the foundation you need to move forward.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and noted guy who insists on living in the 1970’s. His column appears every Wednesday and it is way out groovy man. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net .

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and noted guy who insists on living in the 1970's. His column appears every Wednesday and it is way out groovy man. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net .