Mark Twain said, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Yesterday can be a great source of learning and understanding. It can also be an anchor that prevents growth. It’s a fine line in deciding how much time to spend in reflection. The past can often be a ghost whose voice belongs to a you that no longer exists or to people who no longer have influence. I live by the words of Lewis Carol, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
The past is how we choose to remember it for no matter what, we are no longer those things. The only power it has is the power we grant it. It can be many things: fond memories, great achievements and simpler times. It can also be the darkness of regrets, of bad choice, of “shoulds” spoken by voices we mistake for our own. It is a place to walk with caution because those ghosts are difficult to contemplate and often we find solid things to anchor blame for today’s issues.
But for the writer the past has value and sometimes those ghosts sing bittersweet. To understand the future of our characters we must first understand their past. To understand their past we often are in contemplation of our own. And in that there is the opportunity to rewrite and rework the past. To use the words, the steps and the thoughts of our characters and discover the “what might have been” along those roads we never followed.
Yesterday is a grand place. A place for the memories and experiences that become the sum of who we are today. But today is tomorrow’s yesterday and it too will be a part of that sum. To me that means memories and experiences are the ingredients of my current life, but like all ingredients, it is how I mix them and in what amounts that determines whether I make a blueberry pie or blueberry pancakes.
In my life, as in my writing, I believe that the only control we have is in the Now and through the actions we take in this moment that guide our futures. In taking action we choose not to be a victim of yesterday but rather a product of tomorrow. So I leave you on the second to last day of A to Z with Robert Frost. Each day when I sit down at my desk, I read the plaque with his quote. It is a reminder of the importance of my decisions, big and small. It is a remembrance that today is a reflection of tomorrow’s yesterday.
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Categories: A to Z Blog Challenge