While walking the beach the other day, I really noticed the often seen golf carts that are allowed on the beach to sell condos. Many of them have a seat up front and one in the back facing rearward. As I thought about it, I realized that the person up front is looking towards where they are going while the person in the back, except for an occasional glance forward, has a view of where they had been.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like life. Very often it is the young who, speaking metamorphically, sit up front looking ahead into the future, charting a course and steering towards some future goal. The older we get, the more likely it is that we are sitting on that rear seat, once in a while looking into the future, but for the most part looking back into our past where we have been.
Often the past becomes to us the equivalent of a child’s “blankie”. We hold on to it, mentally brush against it and caress it. It becomes the thing we go to sleep with and feel lost without. It is the past that defines us. It is those past experiences that shaped our character and made us who we are today.
The past varies for each of us. It includes certain people, places and things that were part of our lives when we were younger. Sadly, for some it may be of a time in their lives when the events or people conspired to make living difficult. Quite often though, what is remembered is a gentler time and/or place. For many it was the good times, happy times, times to be cherished when we became old. Those fond memories might be of someone in our past or maybe a time or event in our past. It might be when we were at the height of our careers. It could be when our children were young. Whatever the circumstances, they are times that are irretrievable except in our minds.
It is hard to explain to someone younger what it means to be older and sit on that back seat, looking back. We had our turn sitting up front and made the best of it. Now we spend time looking back when the day isn’t going well or when this world seems to have lost its way. That rear seat is our safe haven. It is the memories we see from that seat that make us smile and yet regret their passing.
For those who are young and sitting on the front seat, all I can say is enjoy it, make the best of it. Time has a way of shuffling the seats around and your day on the rear seat will come soon enough.