Life crests early for some people. That means life goes on, but a plateau that can never be reached again, will burden it. Former presidents, hyper successful business leaders, and famous athletes are among those who will always look back to figure out what their second act should be to measure up to the first act.
Imagine a parent who has centered her life around raising a child. A mother spends decades nurturing and worrying about her child’s physical and mental well-being. One day the child goes off to college or falls in love, and consequently, gets detached from the family unit. What happens to the mother’s life? Obviously, her life goes on with the hope that something meaningful becomes of her child’s life. In any case, the mother will be burdened by always looking back to see what she could have done better.
There are many examples like these if someone cares to look with an independent eye. This is not to say that looking backward is the inevitable fate. But if you do, the dilemma becomes: how to respond to it? Do we look back and regret? If we do, what about the popular culture that treats regret like a mistress? … if you have one, enjoy the pleasure but deny it.
I’ve decided to spend the entire next year reviewing and correcting some of my past approaches. I have no plan that’s supposed to help me with racking up pleasure points. I have no vanity project that’s supposed to result in an everlasting youth – despite the fact that people try it so relentlessly. Instead, I look backward to see if there is a new summit in the future.
I have been very fortunate with family, friendship, and career –but I should seriously look to see if there is a peak in more meaningful aspects of life. That’d be possible only when one can gaze upon by turning back. Themes such as intensity, persistence, and curiosity can lend necessary tools. But the past must weigh upon us, not because it must cancel the future, but because of its undeniable heft.