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Don’t break with the past, learn from it

Posted by on October 16, 2012

A short while ago, a relative of mine decided to leave everything behind and move on into the future. By leaving behind her husband of 20 years for a guy she met at a seminar at a university in Wisconsin, and giving away many items that belonged to previous relationships, gifts given to her from friends and family, and some personal items dating back to her childhood, she decided to leave the life she knew in a small town in Iowa and move on to the future, despite the fact that she recently retired from teaching art in high school and pursue a degree in history.

If people were to read this, they would say that it is totally insane, preposterous and rather mad. Yet many of us have been in that situation at one point or another, where we had lives that were once enjoyable but now were no longer satisfying and wanted to break away from everything that had something to do with us in the past and start over from scratch. I can understand the stories of many people who either wished for something new or  have experimented with that. Some have succeeded and moved on, but some have realized that their experiment was a total failure and have returned to their roots, where they were once successful in their lives. Learning from their past and the mistakes that go along with it, they find themselves again and move on, doing something that is typical, deemed worthy of their character, and that people can like them for, as they had done in the past.

History can work in the strangest ways. We not only learn about the events that shaped our lives, but we also learn about our own surroundings and how we became part of it in one way or another. Our past can help shape our own lives and influence others, regardless of how they judge these actions. The more we do for others and ourselves, the more we will be remembered by them. It is impossible to separate the past from the present in order to pursue a future under a new identity for we will always end up having the past come back to remind us of who we really are. The past can serve as a tool for learning about ourselves and plan for the future, giving us a clearer perspective of what is good in life and what is bad. To break with the past would mean to break with one’s identity for one that does not exist. This is impossible to do, and if there was a possibility, it could be potentially fatal to the person himself. We need our past to learn about ourselves and to love ourselves for who we are. Only then will we be liked by other and we can find a way to succeed in what we are doing.

While I understand the reason for leaving things behind and moving on to a new life elsewhere, if there was a word of advice I would give to that relative who is now residing in Wisconsin or to anyone who is in that particular situation, it would be this:  Keep your past. To break with it means to reinvent it in a different form. Learn from it and you will learn more about yourself.  Those are my words to the wise.

One Response to Don’t break with the past, learn from it

  1. Eddie Bashaw

    I do like your comments about keeping the past. I can see leaving a job or moving on a whim but to leave your marriage on a whim after 20 years affects too many other people than just yourself and I would say is very selfish. I really enjoyed this.

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