Seniors: Part 1, Leaving the Past

Jan 21st, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

It is, admittedly, difficult to surrender the past. That is one possession that we seem to cling to more than all the others. So long as our memories work at all, it seems that we find ourselves dwelling on events and episodes, persons and places, moments and memories that are so much a part of our past. Some hold on to keepsakes that remind us of days gone by. Some keep scores of albums and photographs and stuff and things which help conjure up the glorious reminiscence of yesteryear. And, for some those ambling walks through the paths and trails of those days become an exercise in joyous recall. Likely, so long as one does not become too inundated by the past, there is nothing wrong with such meanderings.

But, it is the present and the future with which we must realistically contend. Particularly is it the present. And in that present, often we find ourselves tempted to compare what our world is like now to then. Present probabilities confront us everyday. They are more than probabilities, they are stark and dramatic realities. I just read that my college English prof, favorite of all, died on Epiphany this month. The epiphany he brought me was to learn to love English and words and writing and literature and on it goes. He was a hard taskmaster and rightfully so. His gentle presence was always an inspiration. I have missed him these 50 years since college, and now I miss him all the more.

Leave the past, we must. But that does not mean we must surrender all of value and import and impression that came out of that past. It means that we continue to treasure the good, the indelible that was imprinted upon us. It means that we can still continue to be reminded of just how much of who we became over all these years came from those years. Leaving the past is often like having to depart a delicious party that we wish could just go on and on. But soon, the lights must be dimmed and the music stops and the last toast is given and the room is empty and bare.

Leaving the past is part of our maturing. Sometimes those experiences and wake up calls that help us understand that certain passages have occured are too in our face. Can we not “go gentle into that good night”? Perhaps not. Perhaps the sudden jerking of us out of the past and into the present is an event that each must manage in his or her own way, discovering, as we go, that there is nothing we can take with us, even our memories.

What we can do with our past is leave its legacy, all its wonders of learning and experience and heartjoys and heartbreaks and fulfilling moments to those we love. We can write them down, tell our stories, reveal even our secrets. Our full lives can contribute to their appetite for wanting to know more about how things were with us and how we got from there to here. Leaving the past is just one more of life’s exercises that helps us ready ourselves for the next bold adventure as we await our future by living out a productive present.

Next: Part 2, Contending with the Present



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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AlzDallas, Sharon Shaw Elrod. Sharon Shaw Elrod said: Seniors: Part 1, Leaving the Past: It is, admittedly, difficult to surrender the past. That is one possession th… http://bit.ly/hmVeSU [...]

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