Beware of Looking Back with 2020 Vision
On the eve of my 1977 wedding I backed out. At least I thought about it. We were at the church laboring through each step of the rehearsal. The wedding party had filed in front of the altar as we would the next day, except for one groomsman. It turned out he’d felt the need to fart. To his credit, he’d stepped outside, not expecting the door to close and lock him out. Initial bewilderment gave way to uproarious laughter when his predicament came to light.
I snickered too, but what came from my mouth was most telling. “I can’t go through with this.”
Dead silence. All eyes, widened, turned to me. “Just joking,” I said.
That’s how I intended it but in hindsight it was no joke. My intuition was screaming for attention. True, I had nagging reservations, but I wasn’t going to back out then. It seemed there was too much at stake. The marriage lasted twenty-five years before I had the courage to make a change.
When I look back now, it is so obvious. Yet, at the time I failed to see it. I thought all would be well once we moved, settled in our new place, and started new jobs.
Who amongst us hasn’t wished for a magic wand to change some aspect of the past? I look back at other life decisions, like my initial choices of education and then employers and wish I would have made different choices. “What was I thinking?” I ask myself. “How would my life be different if I’d spoken and lived from my truth at those pivotal times. Where would I be now?” No doubt my path would have looked very different. Then I catch myself.
There’s a tendency to look back from where we stand now with 2020 vision. We’re hard on ourselves for choices we’ve made with less understanding than we have now. Life experiences are always melding and transforming our perspective and world view. As they open our eyes, we see things in a new way. We did the best we could with what we had at the time. Looking at the past through today’s lens is unfair.
What applies to the individual also applies to the collective culture. I shudder when I look at the racial biases imbued in children’s stories and illustrations that dad loved reading to us. Many parents read those same stories to their children.
We thought we were better than the “poor” people (most would have considered us poor), the less educated, or those to whom we applied any other subjective differentiator. We were certainly above those with different religious beliefs, who were absolutely wrong.
It’s hard to wrap your mind around how these views could come from a loving, kind, and compassionate community, known for charity and peace initiatives.
We can’t alter the past, but we can draw from it, heal, and allow those lessons to inform our present. Use our new vision to create a better future. Question what we hear. Listen, with all our senses, including our intuition, to what other say with their words and actions. Look for the common ground. It’s there somewhere.
Above all, avoid judging ourselves and others retrospectively through your eyes of today. Beware of looking back with 2020 vision.
Photo above on Visual hunt