Forget the path and stay on path to self-discovery

I have been rollerblading a lot lately, in part due to the great weather we are having and in part to find a more creative and fun way to do some cardiovascular exercise (running and not going anywhere gets old after a while).

My first foray into my renewed interest in rollerblading was a comedy of errors. I fell a couple times, once so ingloriously my feet were doing anti-aircraft duty while my left hip tested its ability to bounce and scrape on pavement. A few days ago I had the opportunity to test that hill again –– yes, call me insane –– and in the first few moments before doing so, I found myself reliving my previous experience.

Everyone has moments like that where they find that the present is dominated and eclipsed by the past, and it tends to paralyze us into inaction.

Why do we get so obsessed with what has already happened? Well, for starters, who hasn’t seen satire involving a psychiatrist? For those who watched “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” there is a scene where Sigmund Freud asks, “Tell me about your mother.”

Parents and family in particular seem to delight in telling embarassing stories and perhaps even in pointing out past failures. Employers seem to zero in on the past as an absolute indicator of future performance. Popular culture obsesses over the past, and so when we are haunted about the ability to accomplish something, we freeze up with a familiar emotion: Fear.

The fear that some failed past brings does a lot of damage to the present as well.

First of all, it’s often completely wrong, especially if it is rooted in earlier childhood experiences. As an example, I found multiplication tables hard to grasp for a long time, so I told myself I was bad at math. In my “old age,” I have found I can do math in my head, and employ it extensively in my job. I am not bad in that area at all, I just chose to believe a lie –– one from my past.

Dwelling on the past can also color out expectations of the present and the future, but most of all it prevents us from ever moving forward. No one can walk ahead

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