How many times when we are feeling down or anxious do we look to the past? Perhaps we look for something or someone to blame for our lives not being perfect. When we talk to counsellors or have therapy we are encouraged to look to the past and dig out old and sometimes forgotten hurts or betrayals from the deep and darkest corners of our minds. Often this may be completely necessary, for some are unlucky enough to have suffered terrible or haunting traumas that they cannot begin to move on from until these have been brought into the light and examined so the person can then, hopefully, start the process of healing and move forward.
Sometimes, though, looking into the past can reveal happy, long forgotten times. This has been made plain to me this week. I have been going through old photographs that I found in an old suitcase underneath my Dad’s bed when sadly having to sort out his things. Last night I took a huge trip down memory lane and realised the past has many fragments of stories to tell us if we are lucky to be able to be left a bundle of forgotten keepsakes as I have been.
As our parents age it is easy to forget they were young once; starting out and meeting life head on. They had a life with their own parents and aunts, uncles and friends, a career and a love life. They had expectations and plans.
I looked at pictures of my dad dressed in his naval uniform and saw the eagerness and enjoyment of life portrayed in his physical (and bearded!) appearance! Standing on the ship’s deck with his arms around the shoulders of his compatriots, fit and healthy and tanned by the sun, I saw that just as the waves around him propelled the boat forward so was he being propelled into his new life.
My parents met just after the war in 1949 so were still enduring rationing and austerity when they met, but I think they were full of hope for the future. I looked at pictures of them at a time which must have been early in their relationship and I could see the happiness in their eyes. In their wedding photographs they are surrounded by their smiling families, all celebrating a wonderful and happy day.
No matter how close we are or were to our parents, we often may wish we had asked them more about past days and realise we have missed the opportunity to learn about our family history. But sometimes, if we are able to delve a bit, the signs of the past are there for us. We may never know the full story of how we came to be and even who or what we are fully made up of, but maybe none of us ever really know our full history. We are the sum of many parts and in a way that is the mystery of life.
‘From the hidden depths of your kindly eyes, I see a glance I’ve known from years gone by. When you stop a moment and pause just there, There’s an age-old smile I see you wear.’
I knew I always had a love of the beach and the Cornish way of life, and that Cornish blood runs through my veins, but quite how much I hadn’t realised until looking at countless photographs of my parents and me on Polzeath beach. And I can understand now why I am always drawn to the same corner of the beach when I return there, for we were always ensconced by the same rock pools, picnic box at the ready, judging by the pictures. Grandparents were there often, and aunts, uncles and cousins.
My dad preferred us NOT to play on the running board….(I’m in the middle in the stylish romper suit!)
Apologies for the blurry picture – like me, it’s a little elderly!
I think a good thing for us to remember, is that most of us start out in life full of good intentions and full of hope for a happy and fulfilling life. That must be what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did too. We are in modern times now we say. But they said exactly the same in their time too. People don’t really change. Times may change, but I still think whatever era we are born into we start out wanting the same things, which are, to be happy and to be loved. Wherever life takes any of us we can only do our best – we can try not to focus on regrets, keep as healthy as we can, both physically and mentally, and be compassionate and forgiving.
‘When you are born, your work is placed in your heart’. – Khalil Gibran
I look at the old pictures of lives laid before me, some now over, in this world anyway, and I am thankful that they gave a life to me. Maybe they didn’t feel they got everything right, maybe they felt they made mistakes, but they showed me how to enjoy a sunset and how to ride the waves.
If you are going through a hard time right now and feel uneasy, maybe about your past, I hope you can find a new way of looking back sometimes and remind yourself that there were good things. And even if you have had a troubled past, this too can make you strong going forward once you have learned to leave that behind you. And you may have forgotten good times, but I wouldn’t mind betting there are some good memories somewhere you can shine a light on. As I have said before, nothing good is ever lost.
This week I am pleased to announce my handbook ‘Best Foot Forward – Moving On From Anxiety’ is now available to buy. If you would like a copy it is available at http://www.fast-print.net in the bookshop, and will be available on Amazon by Monday 5th March. Alternatively, if you would like me to send you a copy please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to have your feedback!
’Best Foot Forward – Moving on From Anxiety – is a handbook written with warmth, compassion and humour for anyone suffering with anxiety and the stresses of everyday life. A combination of helpful observations taken from the author’s blogs, interspersed with a little bit of advice and some uplifting quotes, Lyn’s book looks at some age-old problems that can affect us all and then encourages us to take the spotlight off them and move forward.’