I had an ex contact me recently and it got me thinking about how so much of our lives are like a photo book. There are snapshots we take of the big moments that define much of who we are, and these moments give context to the life we see when we turn to look over our shoulders.
The question is, what purpose does it serve – good or ill – to try and reach back into those moments and bring them into the present?
The moment I got that message from my ex I began to scroll back in my mind to the man I was then and it made me sad. That was a bad moment in my life and that person only made it worse. I hurt her and she hurt me. I guess the overriding feeling in the end is that I was young and stupid, we both were, and it’s a moment I don’t like to relive.
I have to admit that I am the kind of person that doesn’t relish reliving the past. I believe in focusing on the moment I am in and the moments to come. Nothing good has ever come from looking back over my shoulder and pondering questions that have no answers.
“What if?”… right?
Knowing her as I do, she needed an ego boost. She’s going through a transitional period in her life (by her own admission in the opening email) and I am sure she’s a bit conflicted. So she flipped back through the photo book of her life to find a moment where she felt good about herself and found me.
The problem is, the only way you travel back is if the other person is in that same transitional moment. Even then most people find that the reasons it all fell apart then still hold true and all they’ve really done is tried to fill a moment of emptiness in their life with something they should have logically known would never work.
I spent some time recently looking back at pictures of my daughter when she was first born and it reminded me of how quickly life passes us by. Each life that we touch and the relationships that we build have their moments, just like the stages of a life, and no matter how badly you want to go back and experience them again, you can’t. I look at my little girl’s beautiful face and I know she will never be 2 years old again. That is both a sad and happy thought at the same time.
It’s natural though to go through ups and downs in life, and when you are down it’s also not unusual to try and grasp for the moments when you felt good about yourself and get back to that time.
For me, the lesson in these moments is not to indulge your ego or curiosity by rooting around in your skeleton closet, but to focus on the moments you have before you – to make better choices, to mature and grow. Seek to understand your own part in how or why your life changed as it has and become a better person so the next stage will be a step forward, not a trudge backwards.
I looked at that boy in my picture book and saw all of his insecurity, all of his immaturity, and it reminded me of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. So I guess I should thank her for reminding me that my work isn’t done.
So I am going to put the book down now, kiss my daughter goodnight, and lay down with my wife. The past can stay where it belongs.