Have you ever wondered what would be like to take the wisdom you have currently and go back to an earlier age in your life? You know the feeling – if only I knew then what I know now – that sort of thing.
Recently, I’ve played out that fantasy a few times. In my mind I’ve returned to my youth, my teens, my college years and my early adulthood visualizing how my experiences would have been different if I could’ve approached them with the knowledge I have gained throughout my life. This little “mind game” has led me into realizing a few lessons learned.
Lesson one – each moment is so precious – take advantage of the gift of the present.
In my travels to the past, I’ve often thought it would be great just to sit there and soak up the ambience of the location and the time and the people – to see my parents at a younger age – to see my children young again – to see the places I used to go and the people I used to know – to see old friends – to visit my schools – and so on. Sometimes, I think I would just have to sit and stare in some attempt to absorb every little detail. I ran through the events of my life so fast not realized how wonderful they were but I didn’t stop to “smell the roses”. I would if I could return.
Lesson two – those things that seemed so important, really weren’t.
There’s been a recent trend of people trying to send the message to troubled teens to “hang in there, it gets better.” These messages are not intended to minimize the true troubles that sometimes haunt our youth. But they are recognition that as we get older, the struggles caused by bullying and youthful cruelty do tend to go away. In addition, as we are younger and learning our way through life – including navigating all of the new emotions which flood us – we can take things way too seriously. As I go back in my mind to my teens, my current wisdom tells me that many of the things that I thought were so gigantic really didn’t amount to much at all. I would probably be much less stressed out if I did a “do over”.
Lesson three – all things pass.
This sort of relates to lesson two – but it gets at the recognition that even those things which I continue seeing as important such that they continue to bother me – those things eventually do go away. As my dad used to say, “things have a way of working out.” When I go back in my mind to the really major challenges I faced, my adult wisdom reminds me that ultimately I grew through the situation and learned lessons from it. So what if that relationship didn’t work out or I didn’t get that grade on that test or the job I wanted? It still worked out ok!
Lesson four – let go of your attachments to the way you think things should be, be open to greater possibilities.
There were a lot of things that were offered to me along the path of life but I did not take advantage of. I was so wrapped up in other things, I couldn’t see the gift that was being given. I really didn’t learn a lot in high school because in my mind I was simply biding my time to get out of there. If I went back now, I would take advantage of what my teachers were trying to give me. I really didn’t enjoy college as much as I could have because I got absorbed into a romantic relationship which distracted me. If I went back now, I would handle it totally different. Life was always trying to give me great things, I just wasn’t always open to receiving them. I would be now!
Lesson five – I’m no better or worse than other people, we’re all essentially the same just trying to live our lives.
There have been a lot of times in my life where I labored under the false assumption that I was not as good as somebody else. They were cool and I was not. They were attractive and I was not. They had money and cool things and I didn’t. They were in the cool group and I was not. I was somehow inadequate, not worthy, not good enough. Although this false belief has reared its ugly head throughout my life, it was certainly more prevalent in my early years. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I have realized we are all just people trying to get our needs met. If people think they’re better than me, that’s their problem and I don’t have to believe it. Conversely, if I think I’m better than someone else – well, that’s not really true either! If I could go back in time, I would interact with people with the knowledge that we are all equal.
But you know, as I contemplated my trips to the past, I wondered how my life right now in this moment would be different if I was living it with the wisdom that I was going to gain off in the distant future. Could I skip into the future and quickly learn its lessons and then come back to right now? What would I know? What things would I change today? The funny thing is this – the lessons would probably be the same ones that I would take with my current wisdom back into the past!
In other words, what would it be like right now if I lived this present moment knowing:
That this moment right now is precious and I need to take advantage of it, not sleepwalking through it but rather absorbing all that is going on.
That the things I think are important right now, maybe really aren’t that big a deal in the scheme of things.
That even the things occurring right now that are troubling me will ultimately pass, giving me gifts of wisdom.
That I need to be on the look out for areas in my life right now where I’m so attached to the way things are or I think they should be that I’m missing out on a bigger opportunity.
That all of my interactions with other people right now are with people who are just like me – no better, no worse, we are all equal.
So here’s my challenge to me – as well as a challenge to you – can you live this moment right now is if you already have the wisdom that you will gain in the future? Try it. I have – and I can tell you this – it changes the way you look at the present moment. You really can live back in the future right now.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!