Honoring The Past Without Getting Stuck There
Gary Roe on 06/21/2016
HONORING THE PAST WITHOUT GETTING STUCK THERE
A few months back, my wife Jen and I were treated to a performance of The Million Dollar Quartet - a musical reenactment of the historic evening that brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. It was a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, sing-a-long delight - a wonderful trip back in time.
I closed my eyes and saw myself sitting with my parents in the Pioneer Restaurant in Wichita Falls (where I grew up), gazing into a new-fangled miniature juke box attached to the back of the booth. I was thrilled. I could play Elvis, Johnny, or Jerry Lee right from my seat!
Back then, that was high tech.
TV was black-and-white with three channels. Changing the channel involved real exercise (you had to get up and actually turn the knob), prime time was clean, and every day’s programming ended with the Star-Spangled Banner. When I watched the first color episode of Hogan’s Heroes, I thought, “Wow! Life can’t get any better than this!”
Phones had cords. No answering machines. No voice mail. Videos didn’t exist (at least, not for the average individual). If you wanted to see a movie, you went to the theater. If you were out on the road and needed to communicate, you found a pay phone. “Boy, never leave home without a dime in your pocket,” my dad said.
In elementary school, I spent every afternoon at the corner drugstore, eating a grilled cheese or a vanilla double-dip cone (for 15 cents) while I waited for my mom to get off work. The store owner even allowed me to read the new comic books, as long as they went back into the rack in the same condition as I took them out in.
Life was different. I could share a lot more. I know you could too.
Now, every day I rise early to the alarm of my mini-computer (also known as a smart phone). I spend the first hour and half or so reading my Bible, writing in my journal, catching up on the news, and seeing what my friends all over the world have been up to - all from my slightly larger laptop computer.
I grab my coffee and breakfast, slip my mini-computer into a bag with my slightly larger laptop computer, and hustle out the door into my much larger computer (also known as my car). After 25 minutes or so of dodging other large, 4-wheel computers, I arrive at the office, where I log onto to my desktop computer to see what happened during the night so I can plan my day.
All day long, my mini-computer-smart-phone beeps, chirps, and honks, signaling I have a new email, secure work message, new voice mail, or text message. After entering all the relevant notes on my desktop computer, I climb back into my maxi-computer (automobile) and zip around visiting patients and families, occasionally checking my laptop for any new assignments stored for me on “the cloud.”
Let me make something clear. I am NOT a techy. I’m remedial at best when it comes to this stuff. I learn what I can, and probably know just enough to be dangerous. I click with caution.
My kids, on the other hand, have no fear with it comes to all this technology. Heedless of all consequences, they click on anything and everything with amazing, almost incomprehensible speed. I can’t watch their screens without getting dizzy.
Life is not what it was. And it’s not now what it will be.
Hang on tight.
We live in a world of daily, exponential change. Everything is rapid and quick. The way we do everything – business, relationships, parenting, family, church, healthcare, investing, etc. – has changed and is changing. Information assaults us from every direction. The average attention span is 8 seconds.
The question is, “What do we do with this?”
Several years ago, my adoptive parents gave me a creative, unusual present: a rearview mirror (like the one mounted in every car). As I pulled it from the bag, I sent them a questioning glance. They smiled and said something like this:
“Gary, rearview mirrors serve a crucial purpose. Knowing what’s behind you is important. Never forget where you came from – the victories, blessings, lessons, and hardships. But all those things are designed to take you somewhere. So, accept this little gift as a reminder: glance in the rearview mirror, but gaze through the windshield. Don’t live looking backwards. Keep moving forward.”
What great advice. If I want to live well and make a difference in this ever-changing world, I better heed it.
Chances are this world is nothing like we remember it growing up. Perhaps things aren’t the way we want them to be. Maybe we’re concerned about the future, or even frightened of what might be down the road.
We could live in denial, wish the world was different, and hide our heads in the sand. We could hunker down, bide our time, hope for the best, and pray for a peaceful exit.
Surely we were meant for more than this. But what can we do in the face of such powerful change?
Here are three suggestions:
1. Pass on as much wisdom as possible.
You’ve seen life. You’ve got decades of experience under your belt. Share it. Tell the stories. Pass on what you’ve learned. History is important. The rearview mirror is crucial. If we forget where we came from, we’re in trouble.
2. Be as positive as possible.
Our world has enough negativity. No matter how the bigger picture may seem to be going, everyone can make a difference where they are. Everyone. Be that difference, where you are. Teach that. Cultivate hope in your heart and spread it generously to all around you.
3. Learn as much as possible.
Don’t quit. Stay engaged. Keep seeking and learning. Don’t go dormant. You’re more important than you know. This world needs you. Now.
Every morning, I look at the rearview mirror sitting on my bedroom dresser. “Today, glance in the rearview mirror, gaze through the windshield,” I tell myself.
Never forget where you came from, but don’t get stuck there. Let your past propel you forward. Glance back. Gaze forward.
Pass on the wisdom. Be as positive as possible. Cultivate hope, and spread it generously. Make a difference where you are, and teach others to do the same.
You might have more impact than you dreamed possible.
Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. His latest book, Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving has already been a #1 Amazon Bestseller. Visit Gary online at www.garyroe.com or contact him at 979-821-2266 or firstname.lastname@example.org