By Col. Abdulwahab Al Balushi (Retd)
Three terms of life
Wordsworth said, “Life is divided into three terms: that which was, which is and which will be…”
Obsession with the past
For the majority of us, we are obsessed with “that which was”.
Reminiscing helps most of us feel better about the present and more hopeful about the future and it is also easy to relive the past as opposed to the constantly demanding deadline-ridden present.
Nostalgia isn’t bad, but…
Being nostalgic isn’t all that bad. Reopening our fondest memories relieves the stress that burdens our current lives. It is good to replay the past experiences and remember: how beautiful it was; how great it was and play back the glorious moments, the nostalgia-soaked memories, playful experiences with friends, of the people we met and the things we had enjoyed doing.
All of this is well and good. In fact, it brings in certain warmth within us. But the danger is when we keep on obsessing about it. If we cannot move past those happenings of yesteryear and sink helplessly in nostalgia and are unable to shake from that lethargy and stride purposefully to the future, we are in danger of being stuck in the past.
Disconnected from the present
There are some who are only able to relate to the past. They constantly talk as though the present doesn’t exist. They always hark back to the past experiences, maybe because it offers them a cocoon of comfort and happiness, which is fine, but they don’t seem to get out of that nostalgic trance. And the unfortunate ones are those who are stuck with their bitter memories. For them each day is a living nightmare of the past.
What I would like to tell them is that they are totally forgetting the current moment. By being disconnected from the present, they are totally letting the current precious moments slip between their fingers.
While you are constantly looking back at the way things used to be and how better things were and are content in enjoying a conversation only with those who know your past, your life is fleeting past; precious moments are ticking away and you are losing your chances to create fresh new experiences.
Re-runs of yesteryears
There is a big difference between thinking about the past and living in it.
Sometimes we live in the past because it is familiar territory. We know every nook and corner of yesterday and so we have no problems in visiting a fond memory lane.
There is no fear of the unknown; there are no nasty surprises or fear of bumping into someone or something we don’t like. It is just like a re-run of your favourite movie or sporting event. Memories that are good always fill you with a warm joy as you relive the “good old days”!
Success is to live in the present
I had spent many years with the Royal Oman Police. It gives me immense pride to have been given this opportunity to serve my country. And while working for the police, I have acquired numerous friends from the force.
The irony is that whenever we get together, even though they are retired like me, our conversation inevitably lead to the good old days and how everything has changed today.
Quite possibly in every scenario that we talk about, we reach to the comparison of the past and the present… and always end up with a sigh and comment that everything used to be better before than now!
Most of us exhibit this inability to move forward. And there is an inherent rejection of our present life and a refusal to live in the moment. This manner of living in the past robs everyone of the opportunity of enjoying and appreciating the present. A bit of reminiscing is alright and a little dose of nostalgia is also fine, but you should not be overwhelmed by the past in such a way you forget to live in the present. Always remember that the success of life is your ability to live in the present.
Today is a gift
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the ‘present’.
To be effective and contributing individuals, we need to live in the present and understand it. We need to enjoy the present, make new friends, understand new ideas and most importantly update our knowledge and also understand issues, which are connecting the past to bridge with the present.
Live your life to the fullest. Be grateful for the present as you have for the past. But do not forget to grab what life has to offer today for yesterdays are over and you are only left with today and tomorrow! Make use of it for today is an unrepeatable miracle!