Going back in time opens our eyes to what we can experience today, but we shouldn’t stay there.

I don’t know about you, but I have some great memories of my younger days. There were some sour bits here and there, of course. But for the most part, life was a swirl of sweet experiences.

These are the times I still hold dear to my heart. Though sketchy as some points may have been, they helped to mold me into the person I am today.

That’s how all memories are, really.

Marked by their measure of value — as in some systemic order of significance — they make their home in the minds of our mortal bodies. They form our worlds in profound ways. And they affect the features of our expressions.

But apart from the general aspect of it all, the memories of our childhood stick out like a sore thumb. They set themselves apart from even the most recent happenings and reach deeper into our souls.

The reality is these moments were either unique or horrible. Everyone’s story is different. And people experience different things in their lifetime.

Still, what happened back then can even affect us today. That could be an excellent thing, or it could be an awful thing. How we choose to respond to these points in time is ultimately up to us.

Living in the Moment

We didn’t have much in those days. A large family with plenty of mouths to feed would drain any parent at some point or another. But for some reason, I chose to find little time to care about the rough areas in my life.

We had enough. That’s what I would remind myself often. Looking around, I could see people who a lot worse off than we were. Gratitude became my mode of existence. It wasn’t easy, but it made every moment shine a little brighter.

Sure, I could’ve complained about it all. It would’ve made more sense to do so, honestly. Nonetheless, hope for the future kept me optimistic. Nothing was hindering me from having fun and enjoying the simplicity of the atmosphere around me.

I had everything I needed. A family that loved and cared for me. Friends who were eager to see what life had in store. As I look back, things were just beautiful. But sometimes we do the opposite, and it turns our world upside down.

Don’t misunderstand me; some people experienced horrible things growing up. They’ve been through more than most people can comprehend. It’s no wonder the road is more blurry than others may be.

Still, the present is ours for the taking. The moments we have are usually squandered away with some unproductive task or another, while we sulk away at what could’ve been.

The best (and worst) of our former days should inspire us to live on, pushing us forward for bigger and better aspirations. But too often we linger in the past and neglect to realize the precious gift we have right now — the present.

Each Second Matters

In my younger years, I didn’t fully grasp how precious those moments were. A fishing trip with my Dad was just another Saturday adventure to check off the list.

Summers spent cutting grass and trimming hedges, laying mulch and perfecting gardens in the neighborhood, seemed more like an experiment to keep my twin brother and me from playing video games for too long.

Mom’s apple pie was just dessert after dinner to my younger self. There was nothing extraordinary about it at the time, just a tasty bunch of the usual.

And yet, as I reflect on occasions like these, they somehow stick. As we gaze into the middle of nowhere, time stands still as I travel back to catch a glimpse of what it used to be.

Oh, what I would do to have a remote control, rewinding again and again, smelling and tasting and seeing once more the rhythms of yesteryear.

So what do we do with these timeless recollections?

Do we attempt to throw them away in the recycling bin of old news? Or do we hold onto them as tight as we can, closing our eyes to what’s in front of us today?

The answer is somewhere in between.

When the latter happens, the importance of the present becomes obsolete, irrelevant to what could be or what is. We shut ourselves into a closet that forsakes the need to see who we have become. And to be frank, this mindset holds us back.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

But in the case of the former, to completely discard the past is to depreciate the value of the process. Even though we’ll never be able to forget the old days entirely, regarding them as meaningless is unnecessary.

That apple pie from Mom was unique because the hands that prepared it distinguished its quality from all the other apple pies out there.

Those fishing trips with Dad were memorable because of the bond they created and the lessons they contained within them.

Though the points in time are different, we shouldn’t overlook the present, no matter where you’re from or who you are.

Eventually, you start to see the significance of living in the moment. You begin to see the need for taking in as much as possible. These are the moments that never escape, not anymore.

It Starts With Your Perception

Reflecting too long makes the present seem boring. Opportunities and advances are limited in retrospect to memories of antiquity. The “now,” from our vantage point, becomes a time when everything is without excitement, lacking meaning and value.

But this shouldn’t be.

The good times are also now, even if we don’t recognize them.

Who’s to say the days ahead aren’t going to be better than the days back then? Or who says today couldn’t be as surprising, a milestone placed in time that you weren’t close to expecting?

It all starts with how we perceive life now.

Don’t just wake up and go throughout the day without taking it all in. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s worth doing.

Trust me; no one wants to take in a day that seems to be hunting your soul. You just want to forget that it ever happened and move on with your life, and understandably so.

Sometimes things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem, though.

We forget how simple our perception of life used to be. In our world then, you couldn’t put a price tag on the simplest of things.

Sure, we’ve taken on more responsibility as adults. But that doesn’t have to disrupt our current experiences and happiness in life.

Over time, we’ve forgotten what it was like to relish the basics, opting instead to live beyond our means and poisoning our worldview altogether.

There’s nothing wrong with being taken back to the good old days. But there is something wrong with staying there.

We have a life to live and a journey to travel.

It’s okay to stop for a second and look at where we were, staring at the scenery behind us. After a short while, though, we have to turn around again and keep going. On to better days; to a better today.

Time stands still for no one. We shouldn’t allow our happiness to end in the early stages of our existence.

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