Walking forwards backwards or being really alive

Working on a project last week, I read a quote from an amazing Australian social reformer who should be better known to us than he is. Hopefully I can have a part in changing that shortly.

Anyway, he wrote that “most people move forward backwards”. The reason is that the future is “dark” in the sense that we cannot see one minute into the future (although we can imagine or project our ideas of what the future might be). On the other hand, the past is like a “blazing light” – we can see its details clearly and so although we may well feel we are moving forward, we do so with our eyes towards the “light” of the past.

But, he says, there are some people who move forward looking forward, watching carefully to see and embrace what emerges from the “dark” of the future. Something like watching the world take shape as night gives way to dawn.

These people, moving forward and looking forward, are those that are “truly alive”, he concludes.

I think we can convince and comfort ourselves we are moving forward when really in life there’s not much choice, as time and our beings go relentlessy where they haven’t been before, whether we like it or not. But are we looking forward.

It’s easy to step into the next thing life offers but have a good measure of our heart and at least one eye on something of the past that shines particularly brightly, even if it is the glistening of tears, or the rich glimmer of a golden time, or the sparkle of youthful innocence.

Move forward looking forward and save your best for what is and is to be. The past will take care of itself – which could be what Jesus meant when he gave the call to follow and said, ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’

I’m not saying it’s easy, or that I’m any good at it. But it makes sense, I reckon.

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