Don’t Look Back

In anger…oh, a new day is breakin’…you’re not going that wayyou’ll miss what’s right in front of you…artists write and sing about not looking back for a reason…it serves no positive purpose. We’ve heard it in songs and read it in books and it makes sense; unless you need to see what tripped you and made you stumble or fall, or to measure how far you’ve come from said stumble, what’s the point of constantly looking back?? I’m hard-pressed to find one. I try not to dwell on things, hold grudges, dredge up the past too frequently, or focus on what once was, rather than what could be…I really try not to beat myself up with all of that I wish I had known then what I know now stuff, or I could’ve handled that better-I should’ve handled that better self-flagellation…it’s like a little self-help book in my head that never closes, working hard to keep the words in between my ears good words. Looking back to errors in judgment or words you wish you could erase is just beating yourself up for no useful reason. I am focused on perpetually moving forward and moving on, “press on” my mom says when I do stupid things, flub up, or fail…press on. I think of myself as such a hopeful and positive person that it simply feels “off” to stay angry, or sad or upset for too long, it does not sit right with my soul and it certainly does not do right for my smile.

Do I forgive and forget too easily? Maybe. Do I sleep better than most everybody I know? I think so. EVERY night I talk to the universe and I say my little “prayers;” if I was a jerk I am sorry, if I acted selfishly I am sorry, if I was an a$$hole I am sorry, if I purposefully did something wrong I apologize and let it go…I suppose it’s no different than praying to God, or Gods and Goddesses, just the vast universe that is everything…putting it out there, in case there really is a greater power, something more than this, and letting me be free of any upsetting thoughts and pressing on. *I am truly sorry if I was not my best self today and I will try to do better tomorrow* seems to me to be as good a prayer as any. When my life has been VERY very bad or sad, the reality for me is that it’s been far more ‘very good’ and ‘very joyful’ than anything else. The highs have outweighed the lows in every year of my life on this earth. I don’t want to dwell on any long ago past upsets or more recent wrongs, I don’t want to remember stinky-sucky-sad feelings or upsets, they are over, done, gone… there is no point whatsoever in remembering things that don’t feel good and that don’t bring about good thoughts. Every single second, the second before, or the day before, or the week before, is gone…over…every single second is a new second to turn things around, turn a frown upside down as the kids used to say, move on, move up, flip a flop, make your fail into a fixxer upper. I alone am in control of the words I let live in my head and I alone am in control of my feelings and emotions so why on earth would I want to think about things that already happened, and make me sad, when I can just be present and happy and looking ahead to what joys might next come my way?? I am moving forward…growing.

I used to volunteer at the jail, when I was in college, every Tuesday…it was my day off, my daughter was in school, so it seemed like a good use of time…I worked with incarcerated men and women and every Tuesday when I got into my car at the end of the day I would sit in the parking lot and smoke a few cigarettes and cry my eyes out. Every Tuesday before I drove home was a Camel Lights-sob-fest, but it got all the heavy thoughts in my mind, out of my mind…it was a mental cleansing, something of a mind eraser. I would cry for the people who were stuck in a cycle that they simply could not seem to get out of, I would cry for a system that seldom seemed very just, I would cry for the people who had nobody who cared about them, nobody who missed them, nobody who wanted them to get better, do better, be better…I cried for people who looked back, hour after hour at how they could have done something other than what they did…their whole existence was looking back. I cried for the women who had lost custody of their babies, and I cried for the men who teared up when they told me how it hurt them, how much they had disappointed their grandmothers, and it all broke me, every story, every Tuesday…broke me into bits. Broke me into a woman who wanted to change the world, broke me into a woman who was sure she would get a job in the criminal justice system and find a way to make it better…and while I never got my dream job or changed the world, those broken feelings also built me into a deeply compassionate and empathetic woman, those feelings of despair that I had for others blossomed me into a person whose gratitude, daily deep gratefulness and thanks, became the thing about me that makes my world so bright, even when presented with various forms of darkness.

If every time you made a bad decision you let it eat you up inside and beat you to death with sad feelings and negative thoughts about yourself, that would be so stupid right??!! I mean, seriously, we are flawed humans, most of us make some bad choices at one time or another, and to be clear, some many more, and more frequently than most, but none of us are perfect…but why let imperfection keep you stuck in a bad mindset?? Just step off, get lost, let it go…not one good thing comes from focusing on the past or negative experiences that already have happened. Not one good thing…

Last week I had surgery on Thursday and turned 54 on Saturday. When you are stuck on the sofa you have plenty of time to reflect on important things if you choose to…Every year I like to think I can be a better version of the me that I was before. Each birthday is an opportunity to take an inventory; is my mind sharp, is my body strong and limber, how is my house and yard maintenance, how is my body and mind maintenance, how are my relationships…these are not moments to dwell or dig up old news, these are moments to reflect upon and from which I go on…I find great joy in the idea of being a better version, in some way, or all ways, of myself in the year ahead than I was in the year I leave behind. So on the sofa, with my leg on an enormous pile of pillows, I thought about how will I be a more positive me, and it was not a waste of time, it might be the best time I spent with myself in months…during my minutes, or maybe hours of thinking deep thoughts, I thought a lot about what my friend taught me years ago, that maybe she read in a book or maybe learned the hard way herself; that the narrative between my own ears is the only story that really matters and the only words that really matter, and I concluded that my positive outlook, my optimistic way of looking at the world, my way of pressing on, IS ABSOLUTELY the way I want to be.

Do I forgive and forget too easily? Maybe. Do I want to be happy and live happy and try, if possible to spread that happiness to others?? Yes. Am I going to sometimes look back and rehash bad thoughts that should not be remembered?? Probably. Am I looking forward to moving on into a new year with fresh starts and wisdom generated from wounds that are now healed?? Absolutely. Am I going to keep thinking about upsetting situations and events of the last year? NOPE. We have an expression in yoga class, “finding comfort in the discomfort” and for me that is Ardha Chandrasana, a pose that I simply am fearful of, and dare I write, I hate it, because I am always scared I am going to fall backwards, and fear is uncomfortable, and that is not only applicable for yoga class it is applicable for LIFE!!! Fear is uncomfortable. Fear of falling backwards is uncomfortable. Finding ease in the unease and comfort in the discomfort matters, I believe it matters more than I have a vocabulary to explain. Now, maybe to you it doesn’t matter. That’s totally fine. That is one of the beauties of this life we get to live, we choose what to think about and what to act upon, or not. We choose. When I regret something I wrote, said, or did, I recognize it for whatever it was, an error in judgment, or a mistake, and I move on…EVERY SINGLE DAY is a new day. LITERALLY EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED THE DAY, WEEK, MONTH, OR YEARS BEFORE IS OVER. A person can think over and over and over, about things but all it is is infecting your own mind of thoughts of the past. Don’t look back is my thought process right now, a new day is waiting every day.

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