45: Back to the beginning.

- September 24, 2017 -

Lately, I’ve been making a conscious effort to revisit some of my most poignant artifacts from the last few years, the favourite books and most memorable photographs and still-so-relevant journal entries, all of which have stored within them various versions of my earlier selves. I don’t do this very often, but I’ve started to think that perhaps I should.

You see, like many of us, I’d certainly heard it said that, from time to time, it can be helpful to retrace your steps back to the beginning, to remember what it was that inspired you to embark upon that particular path in the first place. Until recently, though, I’d never understood why that was considered a useful piece of advice.

To me, reminiscing in such a way had simply seemed like nostalgia in the original sense of the term, from the Greek nostos and algos, which roughly translates to “the pain of the return home.” It didn’t help me to remember why I had started, or how I had felt when I’d started, because that only served to remind me that I still hadn’t gotten to where I thought I should be. It was a painful reminder, not a pleasant one, and I didn’t see the value in it.

Since then, though, I’ve come to view this concept, this practice of returning, in a very different light. On the one hand, yes, it can be difficult to reflect upon the past, and indeed it often is. But, if we choose to see it that way, I think it can also be an incredibly enlightening exercise, as the artifacts we accumulate throughout the years — the books, the photos, the journal entries — can go a long way in shaping a clearer, more concrete vision of our future.

They can help us to remember important insights, the things we’d once known but have since forgotten. They can take us out of the minutiae of the present moment, shifting our focus back to the grandeur of our goals. They can guide us in our decision-making process, reassuring us of what we don’t want and reminding us of what we do.

There is, in other words, a great deal that those remembrances of days gone by can accomplish on our behalf — but, before that can happen, we must wade willingly into the past and allow them to do so.


Off in the distance,
– J


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