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‘Oh! I wish I could get those days back! Those were such good times’, this is what everyone seems to be saying when old school memories are revisited. Which is then followed by – “When we were kids, we wanted to grow up; but when we grow up, we want to be kids again”, says someone who seemingly is very much in tune with the worldly realities.

hindsight-rear-view-future-past-road-mirrorIt is in fact, very true, even though it’s been clichéd so much that no one really cares when you say it. When we look through those old school photographs, we always think about how that time was – whether good or bad. We immediately find ourselves in a flush of memories, pleasant or not, and we stop to think about those times gone by, those moments that changed our lives, for better or for worse, if they felt like a boon or a curse.

If somebody has had a bad childhood, were neglected, abused or bullied, would definitely want to forget that part of his/her life. Whereas others wouldn’t dare forget the sweet memories of their childhood, the stories of their grandfathers and playful togetherness of the family. It is funny how sometimes people say that they want to be a child again, for they’ll get to be free from the worldly worries, and be able to enjoy a game of ball without having to think about that presentation tomorrow. Be able to have the weekends off, be able to sleep like the world doesn’t exist, eat whatever they want, say whatever they think and not be taken offence of.

The life we lived before we grew up often seems better than the present. Doesn’t it? How can we forget that that was time we couldn’t wait to grow up? Couldn’t wait to be able to go out on our own, spend from our pockets, live on our own, and be important enough to be taken seriously? Now that we’re finally here, and we live our lives on our own terms, we still find ourselves daydreaming about the time ahead of the present. May it be that party that’s going to happen on the coming Saturday, worrying about that assignment that is due for the next month, or fearing not being successful enough to enjoy the life that we have dreamt of. The present is never satisfactory. We either dwell in the past, or wait for the future hoping it will bring a better time than right now. It’s either that the past was so beautiful, or a belief that tomorrow will bring a better sunshine. It’s either that the past is a part you want to erase from your memory, or the future is feared for the inadequacy of today. The present isn’t pleasant enough, is it?

But we forget the only and most important missing point here – that RIGHT NOW is all that we have. We can’t change something we did in the past, but what we can do is not repeat the same folly from now for what we want to see our life as in the future. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. We cannot predict the future, but operate towards making it suitable to fit in our perfect dream.

I have a friend, whom I met in graduate college, who had a childhood where she was bullied all through her school days. It had imbibed in her mind that she isn’t pretty, and isn’t loved. And that thought process led her to believing that she’ll never be pretty enough or lovable to be with someone. She had the tendency to push people away. And then she’d complain of how nobody wanted to be with her.

What my friend and many of us don’t understand is that even though a lot of our past experiences make us what we are today, that it is in our hands, solely ours, and nobody else’s, to extract the positive out of it and become a better person. If the past was beautiful, cherish it. If it was painful, build from it. Not let the past affect our ability to see the world in a better way, not let it hinder our hearts into trusting people, and definitely not let it cage our hearts away from love. It may seem difficult to be able to do all these things but remember, sunshine follows the rain, and there is always relief after the pain.

The past had a purpose of teaching us to be stronger, gather from the broken pieces of our lives and build a stronger psyche. Our job is to incorporate it in our present, and build an even stronger future with these life lessons.

As Lao Tzu puts it:
“If you’re depressed, you’re living in the past.
If you’re anxious, you’re living in the future.
If you’re at peace, you’re living in the present.”

So what are you today? Depressed? Anxious? At peace with yourself?