Rear view mirror showing a storm in the background

Someone once asked me if my airplane had a rear view mirror. While it might be useful for keeping an eye on the kids in the back seats, there’s really no need for one. Most planes don’t have rear windows, and the ones that do, the windows are so small, there’s not much to see out the back. So, no rear view mirrors in airplanes.

But when the question was asked, a story came to mind that a friend used every time he’d set off on a new exploit. This friend never cared if his last venture went awry, he only cared that his next one had his undivided attention. He’d always relay that the early race car drivers, the ones that raced cross-country, would rip out their rear view mirrors and fling them out the window before the start because they didn’t need to see where they’d been, only where they were going.

I don’t know the legitimacy of this story, but if it’s not true, well… it ought to be. It ought to be because it’s a great reminder that we need to do the same thing in life, to rip out that rear view mirror we have stuck in our heads. How many of us own one, angled to reflect the past so we can analyze it, wonder what would have happened had we chose the right fork instead of the left, ponder how different our lives would be now if we had possessed the guts years ago to chase our dream versus settle for a steady paycheck? We lament how much time has passed and are paralyzed to move toward the dream now because we’re so far behind where we could have been.

Or, even worse, how many of us have that rear view mirror pointed squarely at ourselves so we can judge the person looking back at us? We scold ourselves, question the decisions we’ve made, point out the potential we’ve squandered, feel shame for the times we took the easy way out.

The truth is, our futures are as bright as we want them to be, brighter than we could ever expect. We just can’t see it sometimes because that rear view mirror is blocking most of the sunlight filtering through our windshield, showing dark clouds as if they’re a barometer of the weather ahead of us versus what they really are: a reflection of what’s behind us. When our field of vision contains that dark mirror, it’s easy to decide that turbulent times are all that are in store on our path ahead. But they’re not. The real journey of our lives is still ahead of us, no matter what happened before. And we all have more control over the outcome than we’d like to believe.

I once watched a dark, disturbing film, which is not my typical fare, but there was one line in it, a beacon of truth and hope that, for me, made the whole movie worth watching:

“Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.”

Chase your dreams. Your future is bright. Don’t cloud it up by looking backward.

Update

on 2010-09-12 15:36 by Christopher Laney

A friend and I were discussing the post and he agreed that we shouldn’t look back, except to seek the wisdom and lessons learned from past events. He made a fine observation, however, my perspective is that the wisdom and lessons are actually part of who we are now.

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