I’ve recently been thinking about a new-to-me concept involving a seemingly universal thought pattern. For some reason there is a common belief that yesterday was better than today. The past holds a nostalgia that the present simply can’t compete with. There are songs, movies, and plays written about it. I often find myself thinking about the past, and for whatever reason it almost always seems to be in a positive light.
We can so easily find ourselves reminiscing on our past lives, who we were, and the great times we were having. This all seems very normal, but is it reality? Or is it simply a phenomenon and not the truth? In order to find out I began to consider myself in a bare light. I looked at who I was in such a way that I was not hiding any of the uglies away in my thought closet.
The results were surprisingly much different than I thought they would be. When I look back on my life it’s easy to see a few highlights across a span of time. My past is easily broken down into different chunks of time based on where I was living at the time. Since I have moved frequently each span of time is easily distinguishable from another. The surprising thing is they all universally seem like great experiences.
I think I have lived a wonderful life and have very little to complain about, but that does not mean it has always been great. After college I took a job offer in San Francisco. There was nothing wrong with this experience per se, but I was miserable. San Francisco was not a place for me, I was constrained and spent hours in traffic. Overall it drained me to one of the lowest points in my life. It was so bad that I left in a hurry after only spending a little over two months there.
The interesting thing about my remembrance of this experience is it’s positivity. When I think back to my time in the Bay Area I think of how great it was. I realize I had tough times there, but most of my memories are the good ones I made while I was there, not the bad. This positive view of my past is so strong that it is possible for me to believe that it was better than the life I live right now.
So what does this mean? In order to better understand whether the present is better, or at least as good as the past, I think it is important to look at our past actions. Actions are a way of understanding the truth behind our memories. I know that I am living better today than I have ever lived before. While it is not perfect, I have no desire to change anything. I think that I am on the right path. When I look to my past, I was willing to make huge changes and sacrifices to alter my circumstances. This is the reality, the truth behind glass.
I guess in all of this there is something to ponder when we perceive our time here on earth. It can be easy to fall into the trap of longing for our past. The funny thing is, we can’t go back so why worry? On top of that, really take a look back and think about what was really going on at the time. Was it really that wonderful, or do we just remember the good parts? I think it is important to live for today, with an eye toward making tomorrow better.