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On Shakespeare's side

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Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back.—Robert Frost

During a conversation with a colleague this week, he said he doesn't look back on his life. He said he concentrates on the present and the future.

If what he says is true, I envy him. "What's past is prologue," Shakespeare wrote, and the Bard had a knowledgeable finger on the pulse of the human condition. I side with him.

The subject of roads not taken, or taken, pops up now and again in this blog (probably more than it should), and it's not my intent today to trod those roads again. Having said this, my mindset is different than my colleague's. The past shows us how we reached the present. Its pitfalls remind us to avoid them on the roads stretching before us. Our successes tell us that despite past roads' potholes, we have prevailed in some, if not most, aspects of our lives.

Past is prologue. Sometimes, though, I wish the view in the rear-view mirror wasn't at clear.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
As is often the case when presented with two vantage points, I see merits in both.

I think the harm in looking back comes when the focus is on regret and worry over things you cannot change - when the looking back serves no useful purpose for us in the present or the future.

I think the advantage of looking back is to remind us of exactly what you've said - things we did right, and lessons learned from things we did wrong or wished we'd done differently.

Lovely image to go with the post, too.
Feb. 3rd, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
I know this always has been your philosophy. I'm coming around to it.
Feb. 4th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
On my desk top is a question I pose to myself every day, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" It is a reminder that as many times that I succeed, I also fail...and that I should not be deterred from that fear. This past week I found a poem called, "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson . It is a thought provoking piece and a perspective i had never thought of. Holiday
Feb. 4th, 2013 04:23 am (UTC)
"Don't let fear hold you back" is something I tell students regularly, but I can't take my own advice.
Feb. 5th, 2013 02:02 am (UTC)
I love that quote. First saw it on a quotable card (and again, most recently, just yesterday afternoon).
Feb. 5th, 2013 03:33 am (UTC)
I hated Robert Frost in high school, but this poem and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" get to me every time. I have an alternate ending to "Stopping by Woods," though:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And Lou Reed is a fkng creep
Feb. 5th, 2013 02:01 am (UTC)
I know a guy who frequently said, "History helps us understand the past." I think I'll show him this post.
Feb. 5th, 2013 03:18 am (UTC)
I'm going to call Emerson out of the bullpen to save me:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
Feb. 5th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
I had a friend in law school who was one of the happiest people I ever knew. One day I asked her how she could be so happy all the time, especially when so many of us were so miserable, given our circumstances (law school was decidedly NOT FUN). She said when she started to get upset or worried or anxious about something, she would stop and ask herself if whatever it was would matter in 5 years - really truly matter. And she said, most of the time the answer was "no". So, she could let all those things just go. It's a great philosophy - takes training to implement but wow does it keep you from beating yourself up.
Feb. 5th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
It must be good advice if it got her through law school.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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