Everyone wants to go backwards or start over. I find this to be a frustrating attitude. It’s like people don’t realize that things happen for a reason. You couldn’t be the person you are today without the experiences that got you there. Good, bad or otherwise benign – all of your past culminates in your present and adds to your future.

Still, everyone seems to want a rewind button. I personally think it’s a lack of faith to even consider it. Does that seem to be a non sequiter? Bear with me. Faith is a foundation and I’m not talking religion here because I don’t care what you believe in so long as you believe in something. Faith is that belief in more than human beings; that there is something or someone more powerful available to help you along the path of life; and that there is a destination for life that goes beyond a 6-foot deep hole and a eulogy.

With faith, the rest of the world has a chance of making sense. All the horrible things we, as humans, do to one another actually have a place in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying that we necessarily understand that great plan, but the knowledge that it’s there provides hope. With hope, the past becomes a stepping stone to a better place.

If there’s a plan, and I have faith that there is, then even someone hurting me has a place in it. I may have to suffer for a moment so that they can move on to the next step in their part of this enormous production. One day, I’m sure I’ll be the one hurting someone else. The best we can do is acknowledge, learn and avoid repeating mistakes to make our future path smoother.

So, going back gains you nothing but a different set of mistakes with potentially better or worse outcomes. Of course, there are those people that don’t want to go backwards, but instead want to just quit where they are right now. The past was so bad to them that they can’t foresee going forward.

In both of these cases, the root of the problem remains the same. People have an inability to let go of the past. They walk around holding their hurts, grudges, anger and memories like medals of honors pinned to their bare skin. They wallow in the rationalization that if their parents, siblings, extended family, friends, schools, churches, or neighbors had only been better, nicer, smarter, richer, prettier or holier they could have a different life. However, since that isn’t the case, they are doomed and there is no reason to go on.

Sounds pretty foolish when you read it, doesn’t it? I’ve always believed you “be a living example”. In other words, if you’ve come from the gutter, fallen in the gutter, currently abide in a gutter – your goal in life should be to demonstrate to others how to escape the gutter. Everyone takes a different path to do this. For some people, the gutter is something tangible like drug abuse or criminal behavior. In some cases it is poverty or lack of education. Even a cycle of abusive relationships is a type of gutter. Bad family history? Gutter.

Whatever your gutter, you can climb out of it. Because there is hope, you can work towards a better place than where you are currently. It might just mean climbing onto the curb for a while, but hey – it’s not the gutter, right?

People don’t seem to think this way. Let’s say your family has a history of alcoholism and poor money management. You have a couple choices, you can either learn from this family history or repeat it. Even if you do repeat it, you now have the knowledge to recognize the problem and potentially have the solution already in your past.

Erasing that only makes you as dumb as your ancestors who have already walked that broken road without the experience of what such a life could bring. This is only my opinion of course. It’s all based on faith, hope and an unwillingness to dwell in the past. I can see the gutters I’ve sidestepped because of my experiences to date and I’ve pulled myself from the ones I wasn’t smart enough to avoid. I just hope that anyone watching me is learning from my life so they can improve theirs.

Living examples don’t erase the past, they push the dirt into a mold and make it into bricks to build something from. So, let me ask you, are you a living example, another person wishing for a rewind button that doesn’t exist or a quitter unwilling to give true life a try?

Originally posted Jan 2007