We ask ourselves this question all the time, or one like it:
Why can’t we just move back to Dallas?
Why can’t I just go back to my old job?
Why can’t we just keep our old car?
Why can’t we just get back together?
We get the idea that back then, everything was fine. Back then, we were happy. Back then, we didn’t have anything to worry about.
Of course, we’re kidding ourselves. Back then was probably no better than now. But our focus was different. We were happy, maybe, and we think it’s because of something we had back then–a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a job, a car, a home, a smaller waist, better health, status–that we don’t have now. We forget that back then had its own problems, or we convince ourselves that whatever problems we had are dwarfed by the real problems we have now.
And we forget that back then, we looked back to an imaginary time even earlier and longed for that.
The truth is that we’re hardwired to resist change. Because change means we don’t know what’s coming, and that’s frightening.
And change is inevitable. It’s happening every minute. We get older. Our bodies change: hair and nails get longer, fat gets harder to eliminate, muscle gets harder to build. Our vision gets less sharp. Our hearing becomes less keen. Our joints start to ache.
We don’t notice it in the moment. But at some point, we look back and realize it’s different. We’re different. That’s when we start wanting to return to back then.
And that’s when we have a choice: we can spend our time wishing for a return to back then, turning over and over in our minds all the good stuff we’ve left behind and forgetting all the ugly stuff; or we can turn our eyes forward and resolve to love this new world we find ourselves in. This new situation that, except for our attitude, is really not that much different from the old. This new, frightening, beautiful us that we’ve only now realized is going to keep changing, however hard we fight.
It’s not much of a choice, really. We can lose our present through our focus on the past, or we can embrace our future and resolve to enjoy the journey with all its twists and turns, all its uncertainty, all its unavoidable change.
I know which choice I plan to make. What about you?
[This is my 200th post in this space. Thanks for reading!]