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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Past-Future

"The past is not dead. It's not even past."
~ William Faulkner

Sometimes in order to see our way forward we need only look back. Remember back only five years in your life, your community's life, the nation's or the world's. What were the circumstances, issues, hopes and dreams only five years ago? How have things changed?  Is your current condition surprising or expected? Is life as bad or good as you anticipated? What were some of the dynamics that brought you to this point in life? Now do the same exercise using 10, 20, or more years.

My guess is when most of us do this we discover our lives, and the world, have a general trajectory determined by decisions and choices based on past experiences in order to maintain a sameness, or stability, to the present. Any real change usually comes from a significant departure from this dynamic often brought on by major events like births, deaths, illnesses, moves, accidents, etc. In the case of nations these change makers are elections, wars, treaties, agreements, laws; all of which are influenced by more personal dynamics.

For me, several simple axioms of life come from such contemplation. First is the old adage that if you keep doing the same thing you'll get the same results. Or the more negative version is the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

Second is Ebenezer Scrooge's question to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol, "Men's [sic] courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me." 

The final axiom is the simple but overarching aspect of time, "this too shall pass." 

So, want to know what's in your and our futures? Take a look at the past. It will give you some clues.

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