Looking forward

We’re taught to review, to learn from our mistakes. We’re conditioned to examine what has happened, to glorify the lessons we have learned. And perhaps we spend too much time looking in the wrong direction.

December is a time of reflection; we evaluate our successes and our failures, what went right and what could have gone better. As the end of the year approaches, we fall into one of three camps: those who are happy with a year well lived and are looking forward to 2014; those who can’t wait to see the back of what has been a series of one disaster after another and are looking forward to 2014; or those who are too busy living the present to demarcate their lives into annual segments and will still be writing 2013 in March.

The papers are full of what has happened in the last twelve months. Catastrophes are being replayed. Famous births and deaths are being recounted. Milestones in sporting history are being relived. We will parse and analyse the political shenanigans of those we have elected to office. From our armchairs we will dish out our expert opinion on where exactly the world went wrong this year. And with the benefit of hindsight we might even be wishing that we had done things a little differently.

For me, the end of the year is not about reviewing what has happened to learn from my mistakes. I’ve never mastered that art – I make mistakes so that others can learn from me. It’s not about measuring my success or failure against the 12-month plan I agonised over in January because my plan has always been to have no plan. It’s not about checking my bank balance and share portfolio to see how much better (or worse) off I am this year vs last year.

For me, the end of the year is about giving thanks for all that has happened – good and bad; each tear and laugh has helped shape who I am, the person I’m born to be. It is about counting my blessings, blessings that take the shape of friends and family, kind words, good deeds, opportunities and experiences. It’s about realising that generosity of heart and spirit is the secret to a life well lived.

Let’s not overcomplicate things in our review of 2013. Let it go. And let’s keep it simple for 2014: live well, laugh often, love much.

First published in the Budapest Times 13 December 2013

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10 Responses

  1. Love that perspective. We (read I) spend way too much time trying to make sense of what happened instead of paying attention to what’s happening.

    There is this saying, okos ember más kárán tanul. I think I’ll join you in the club of the not so okos.

  2. Hmm… I’ve had this open on my computer for two days, as I try to decide what I think about it… What happened to learning from history or being condemned to repeat it? Planning? Improving? Learning from mistakes and making sure next year goes a bit better? While I’ll celebrate a year that’s over, along with what I’ve learned and accomplished, and welcome the new one that’s coming, I am definitely investing some thought and energy to make sure next year is an improvement over this one.

    1. If we weigh the time (and energy spent) looking back and revisiting and NOT learning, against the time we spend looking forward and being open to new experience and opportunities, for me there is no competition. Life has shown me that it seems we’re incapable of learning from history (or at least that history has repeated itself a hundred times). Concentrating on the present and bettering it would make – as the somewhat trite adage goes – every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope…

      Mary Murphy http://www.stolenchild66.wordpress.com

      On 16/12/2013 19:48, Unpacking my 'bottom drawer' in Budapest wrote: > New comment on your post “Looking forward” > Author : gingerpaque (IP: , 24-181-164-119.dhcp.eucl.wi.charter.com) > E-mail : gpaque@gmail.com > URL : > Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/

  3. I always understood that the main lesson of history was that people don’t learn from it . . . And there is the Russian proverb that if you focus on the past you may lose an eye, but if you don’t you lose both.

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