Editorials by Robert Kirwan


You Can’t See Where You Are Going If You Are Always Looking Behind…
  One day, many years ago, I was standing in the hallway at a local elementary school watching a teacher bring her class to the gym when I overheard the most philosophical question I have ever encountered in my life.
  One of the students was looking back at something and bumped into the teacher who starred down at the child and said, “How are you ever going to see where you’re going if you’re always looking behind?”
   I don’t know how many times over the years I have recalled that moment in the hallway. “How are you ever going to see where you are going if you are always looking behind?”
   It is such a simple question. For example, everyone knows that you must watch “where you are going” when driving a car; walking along the street; or in a line-up at the grocery store. It only makes sense unless you want to bump into everything in your path.
   Nevertheless, how many times have you avoided doing something you really wanted to do in your life simply because you “looked behind” and saw that you either failed at it before, or were afraid of making a mistake that you once made in the past, or you thought that people would hold your past reputation against you? Let’s face it! We have all been there! Each and every one of us can pick out at least one “regret” in our life. At least one thing that we really wanted to do, but our “past experiences, fears or reputation” forced us to forgo that dream.
   I’ve kicked myself so many times in my life for “looking behind”. Now, every time I catch myself doing it, I remember the day in the hallway when that teacher gave me the greatest lesson about living I have ever heard. “How are you ever going to see where you are going if you are always looking behind?”
   There is absolutely no question that we’ve all done things in the past of which we are not proud. We’ve all done things and said things that we wish we could take back. Unfortunately, what is done is done. You can’t turn back the clock. You can’t “undo things you have done” or “take back anything you have said”. All you can do is “look ahead” and make sure that you do and say things today that will take you where you want to go tomorrow.
   You have to look ahead in order to see where you are going. You know where you’ve been in the past. You know from where you have come. If you are not proud of where you’ve been, if you are afraid your reputation will come back to haunt you, just make sure you don’t make the same mistakes today and go forward with your life as if it is a new beginning. People are very forgiving and will allow you to make a new start. They will even give you support and encouragement when they know you are trying to make things right.
   Perhaps the only thing worse than “looking behind” yourself, is when other people are always “looking behind” for you. When people are always bringing up your “past” and preventing you from moving forward. These are the “dream killers” who deep down are either jealous of their own failures in life or who get their personal satisfactions from destroying the self-esteem and ambition of those around them.
   Don’t allow these “dream killers” to get you down. Refuse to look behind at your past. Refuse to acknowledge the attempts of others to put you down because of past mistakes that you may have made and for which you regret. And for goodness sake, please don’t ever become a “dream-killer” yourself. Don’t fall into the habit of judging a person by mistakes he or she has made in the past. Look instead at what the person is doing today. Look instead at where the person is heading and help that person “look ahead”. Help that person stay focused on the path that lies ahead.
   After all, if everyone believed that as soon as you make one mistake in your life or as soon as you do one thing you regret your life is over, where would this world be? Life is nothing more than a series of experiences. Some are good. Some are bad. Some of which we are proud. Some of which we are ashamed. However, one thing is for certain – “You can’t see where you are going if you are always looking behind!”  


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Valley East Today is published by
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