We all have a past life. Our past begins the day we are born and constantly expands, as we add new chapters to our life story. I look at my three-year-old step grandson, Luka, and think that even though he is still a toddler he already has a story to tell. My grandmother lived until she was 92. Imagine the sheer volume of events that occurred in her past, and I am sure I only knew about a small portion of them.
We constantly progress from our past to our present and then on to our future. The path we take over our lifetime depends on millions of decisions we make, as well as innumerable outside factors that are outside our control.
If we look back, there are many happy memories of our past. Even those from the most wretched backgrounds will still be able to dredge some happy memories if they allow themselves to remember. Special days. Special people. Special occasions. Special places.
Alas, for most of us, these happy memories of the past are intertwined with unhappy moments, where events did not flow the way we would have liked. Perhaps, looking back with hindsight, we made some poor decisions. Perhaps our unhappiness resulted from the actions of others. Maybe we simply suffered from bad luck. Whatever the reason, we all have sections of our past that we wish we could now alter, that we would handle differently if we could go back in time and revise our life.
I am a passionate fan of British sci-fi show Doctor Who. Like the show, I was born in 1963 and are currently 53. If you do not know the program, it is about an alien called The Doctor who can travel through time and space in a craft shaped like an old blue police telephone box, called The Tardis. Being a “Whovian” (yes, that is the bizarre name given to us Doctor Who fans) I have often wondered about what it would be like to get in a time machine and go back to my past life. What would I say to 10-year-old Andrew? What would I say to my teenage self, and as a rebellious teenager would I have taken any notice anyhow?
The thing is, we do all make mistakes along the way. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. It is simply a sign that we are human.
The problem comes however when you get to middle age and begin to ask questions of yourself. Why has your life not turned out the way you wanted it to? What happened to those dreams you had when you were young (and naive?) Do you just have to accept that you are living life as it is meant to be, and you should “shut up” and just get on with it.
We all at times have regrets about our past. We question the decisions we made along the way. We rue the steps we took. Perhaps it’s our lack of a loving relationship. Maybe it’s the dead end job we have. Perhaps we scrape by on a meagre income on a day-to-day basis. Possibly we just feel bored, and unable to see a point to anything we do.
In my own case, I made a stupid decision in 2012 that like a stone on a lake sent ripples that negatively affected my whole life. I lost my job and with it a good income. This meant that I could no longer afford to pay my mortgage payments, and lost my house. I faced this in the public glare, being on the wrong end of somewhat sensational reporting. I lost some friends, although I did learn very clearly who my true friends were.
If only I could get in The Doctor’s Tardis, and go back four years and tell my younger self, “Don’t do that. It will only lead to disaster!”
But of course, I can’t. I am 53 years old now, with 53 years of past history. There’s no going back. There’s no changing things. My past is set in stone.
But, do I hide from the demons of my past life? Hell, no!
The past is part of my story. Just as young Luka currently has a 3-story to tell (that will expand as time goes by), I currently have a 53-year story to tell. For the right or the wrong of it, I made my decisions in the past. I may not be able to change those decisions, but I certainly can learn from them.
I once worked with a young guy by the name of Tim. I would best describe Tim as a Bohemian with a somewhat leftfield outlook on life. Tim always seemed to get into trouble with the boss. He was a round peg in a square hole. I was Tim’s immediate supervisor, which could at times be “challenging”. But I adored working with Tim, because of his philosophy on life. He looked at life as one great learning opportunity, full of new experiences to encounter each and every day. He even saw positives when he was being dressed down by the big boss for some misdemeanor – he saw his bollocking as yet another learning experience.
Now, we all should look at our past like this. Our past, even those horrible, uncomfortable, downright disastrous moments that we have been through, has been what has shaped us. Even if we have not consciously thought about it before, there is much we can learn from the past, which will help us plan, create and put into action an improved, prosperous future.
Don’t spend too much time wallowing in the past. But don’t ignore it either. It’s not accidental that they still teach History at school. Our History teaches us lessons that will shape our future. And that is just as relevant for any individual as it is for a nation or a state.
Yes, I admit it. I have made many wrong decision in my past life, but I no longer spend time having regrets about them. It is a very long time since I have hidden from my past demons. I am now far too busy working towards reinventing my future, to ensure it is rosy and prosperous.