The new year – January as a month – is a time for reflection. To assess our progress in life: where we were, where we are, and where we are going.
I’ve learned, in the hard way, that where I was – the past – and where I’m going – the future – don’t hold much mettle. The place to be is here, right now. It’s all I’ve got. It’s all any of us has.
It was in this thought that I recently changed my Facebook cover photo.
I’d had the same picture for two years. It was a nice photo.
I had the one before this one for maybe five years. I don’t really like changing my photo because change is hard. Plus, each change only makes me look older.
As stated, the photo I recently swapped out was nice. (Because no one posts an ugly one.) It was of my husband and me on a ride at Mickey’s favorite place. We were both smiling. I was looking back, probably at our kids riding in the Dumbo car behind ours. It was a happy, in-the-moment shot.
I’d had the photo as my mainstay for two years mostly because it was a moment when my husband and I were truly happy, and who doesn’t want to remember that – much less project it upon the world at large?
It worked for me for two years until one evening, I looked at that picture and saw something I hadn’t really noticed or registered before. In the photo I was, quite literally, looking back.
Suddenly, the Dumbo ride from 2018 took on new meaning for me. In an instant, I saw it with new eyes. I was looking back. And I realized I no longer wanted to do that.
I no longer needed to do that.
My past was wonderful. I’ve had a magnificently fortunate life. And this is not to say that I can’t look back occasionally or even frequently, but it shouldn’t be my mainstay photo – my mainstay stance in life. I hope I always look back at times and in some regards.
Just as I hope, I always look forward to the future.
But I can’t properly prosper and grow and flourish in the looking backward. It can give me perspective and memories, but I don’t want it to be the focus of my life.
That evening, when I saw the photo as if for the first time, I realized it was time to turn my face forward and focus on the now.
Not behind, which is no more. Not ahead, which is yet to be. But now, what I have. The only time I have. Just. Right. Now.
How simple is that?
How hard is that?
Come January every year. We are challenged to see things anew. To set goals. Instead, I challenge us to live in the now. Not to worry about our failed marriage or failed job or why that friend never calls or next Wednesday or the upcoming dentist appointment or when we might be able to lose those 20 extra pounds or pay off the mortgage or get that new puppy or buy that new car or the price of gas or milk or any of the myriad things we can think of from the past or the future that could occupy our thoughts today.
Today focus on today. The best you can be today. The best you can do today. Right here, right now.
Tomorrow will come. And it will be today, and then you can do it again with the next tomorrow that comes your way.
If you are lucky.
All the best in 2023, but most especially, all the best to you today.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.