I have been reviewing and looking over my past posts with the intention of pulling together thematic ideas for a book. The thought is to try and "work smarter" by using ideas I have already begun to explore and flesh out. But, I have a tendency to not look back on my work. Once created, any work is once and done.
Through this review I am noticing duplicate themes: not only that, but also duplicate exact topics. I am either passionate about a certain subject (which can be true) or I am a very slow learner (alas, which can also be true). I know that what I wrote was in earnest about what I was feeling and experiencing at the time.
By the repetition of my ramblings, it seems as if I haven't learned anything yet. I thought that I was moving forward in my quest for becoming more of the person God has made me to be. I thought that I had improved or completed some of my personal and professional goals.
I am reminded of the quote by George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
I am also reminded of the idea that keeping one's eye on the past is like driving a car by looking in the rear view mirror. It won't take too long before you hit something. (mangled version of a statement by Rick Warren)
What are we supposed to do? Never look back? Always look back? Resign ourselves to circular travel?
Once again (as I have previously written) it all comes down to balance. Balancing the remembrance of the past with the expectation and hope for the future. Having just celebrated Easter, I am reminded of the nature of people. Holy week is divided almost mid-week by the Last Supper which was the celebration of the Passover meal. Every time Christians celebrate communion or eucharist or the new covenant they are also (maybe not so noticeably) remembering the old covenant of the Passover. It is in looking forward to the unhindered relationship with God that we reflect on where we have been. We remember our state of dis-grace so that we can appreciate and enjoy our new state of grace.
What about you? Have you ever looked at the things which worried you in the past? If you would review your Christmas letters or past journals, would you find that you are writing about the same things? Are the topics the same- year in and year out? Do you feel that you are in a rut? Are you stuck in doing the same ole, same ole? Or are you the rolling stone gathering no moss as you keep moving forward? Are you the shark mentality- keep moving or you can perish? Either way, are you happy with that situation? What can you do about it?
I think reflection is good, both as individuals and as a society. It keeps us accountable. We have responsibilities for our actions and the remembrance of the past keeps us in check not to repeat detrimental action (or so we hope).
Refection also helps to understand new situations as they arise. Sometimes we may be in a quandary how to respond to the new predicament and we need the context of what has gone on before. We need to view the new through the lens, and possibly the actions of the old in order to accomplish our current and future goals.
In visiting the Nantucket Whaling museum some years ago, they had a display of old fashioned hand tools that the sailers used to carve up the whale once they harpooned and killed it. The tools were designed to get the most out of the carcass. The docent remarked that a few months prior to our visit a beached whale had died on the shore. They needed to clear the beach and wanted to remove sections of the whale for scientific study. None of the modern tools could accomplish what they wanted. They had to come to the museum and borrow some of the display tools. It was only through using the past could the present be helped.
I think in order to keep the balance, we do need to remember the past. To remember and learn from it.
However we cannot be heavy laden with that side of the balance. We need to reflect on what is on that side of the scale and move forward, learning what we should and shouldn’t do.
One thing that was eye opening in looking over past posts was that I could see growth and stagnation. It has helped inform my decision of my life choices for the couple of months. I am realizing that some of the things I haven't completed yet, need to get done. No more mucking about.
I think that is one of the blessings in keeping a journal. One can look back to see answered prayers, concerns, joys, cries of the heart. The blog has become a journal of sorts. I notice what I have commented upon and the date and it is a good remembrance of things done.
If you don't, I would encourage you to keep a journal. Try it. It doesn't have to be a lengthy epistle, just lists of what you are thinking would suffice. It would be interesting if you could keep it for at least a year so that you can go back and see what has happened in a year's time- your thoughts and reflections. If the journal is too daunting, why not jot a view things down each day on your calendar? Perhaps three words to describe your day? Three things for which you are grateful? Or have as a goal?
If you don't journal, do you have some record, demarcation or milestones of your past? Do you reflect on them? If so, does that inform how you go forward?