Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Søren Kierkegaard

One of my favorite movies in my youth was “Back to the Future.” It had crazy scientists, action, and love – exactly what every juvenile craves. The only thing I never liked about the movie was the title. I was always under the impression you had to travel forward into the future and looking back was always about the past.

If you’re struggling with the same paradox, fear not. The internet has the answer. It’s because Marty spends the majority of the movies in the 1950s, trying to return to his time period of the 1980s. Therefore, he wants to get “Back to the Future.”

But, maybe there’s more profound meaning to be had. What if we’re meant to live life with our backs to the future? That is, we figuratively walk backwards into each new day. Think about it. And, before you lampoon me for this dumb dad joke, hear me out.

It’s easy to live life looking forwards. We set our sights on what looks attractive and make our way there. We make goals and resolutions. Some get achieved and others get earmarked for the next year. Most of us carry on in this matter repeatedly without much success. Are some of us just doomed to fail while others primed to succeed?

Unlikely. The true cause is probably under utilization of our complex brains. We need to learn from our past mistakes and that of others in order for us to live a wonderful future. And, that can only be done by looking backwards.

“Blasphemy!” you might argue. “How can one live if they’re constantly thinking about the past?” And I would say, how can you live if you haven’t tended to the past? If there’s still monsters and ghosts chasing you? If there’s doors you haven’t closed and locked, and messes you haven’t cleaned? You can run, but the past will relentlessly chase you and inevitably catch you.

Besides, the future is unpredictable anyway. So, given that, I’m spending my New Year’s reflecting on what I need to leave in the past. Which doors I should close and which I should keep open. Because, if there’s one year we need to prepare for with hindsight in mind, it’s definitely 2020.


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