Learn From the Past but Don't Live There
I tend to experience bouts of nostalgia – longing for the past. Sometimes I even buy gadgets that I once owned because I remember them fondly and regret letting them go.
Most of the time, though, the nostalgia is fleeting and I am soon reminded why I didn't hold onto these things and why I got rid of them. And I get rid of them all over again. What am I trying to recapture? What am I holding onto? I realize it's not about the things, it's about what life was like and how I felt when I had them.
Back in January I acquired a Nintendo 64. It was fun for a little while, but I lost interest again and traded it for the desktop PC I now use as my primary personal computer. When I bought my first Nintendo 64 in the late 90s I was in high school. I bought it with my own money I had saved from working my first “real” job at K-Mart. Life was full of promise and possibility. I was a teenager living with my parents and siblings. I was taken care of. Safe. Happy. And I sure had fun playing that N64 with my siblings and friends. But the object itself means nothing. The experiences, feelings, and memories associated with it are what really matter – and I don't need to physically own a N64 to have those – they are a part of me and will be mine forever.
Living in the past goes both ways, though. Sometimes we want to live in the past to escape the present. Sometimes we are stuck in the past and can't seem to escape it. We second-guess ourselves. Wonder what would have happened had we taken a left turn at a certain crossroads instead of a right turn. We don't forgive others or we don't forgive ourselves.
Either way, we must learn from the past, but not live in it. Remember the good times and the bad, but don't dwell on them.
Thomas S. Monson said:
The past is behind—learn from it; the future is ahead—prepare for it; the present is here—live in it.
I'll try to remember this the next time I have the itch to buy an old PalmPilot.