“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” – Isaiah 43:18
The time finally came several years ago for Tee and her sister to move their Dad out of the old family homestead where he and their Mom had resided for some forty-six years – the place both daughters had called home for a good part of their childhood. Most adults at some point go through that experience of moving parents or grandparents out of their home. Such is a melancholy time for most of us as our minds are flooded with memories – good and bad – from the many archeological artifacts excavated from deep inside closets and attics. Not surprisingly, their experience was no different.
One thing did surprise me, however, and that was Tee’s reaction to all the buried treasures that were uncovered. While most did in fact conjure up fond memories of her childhood, it puzzled me to observe how few she chose to keep. There were a few exceptions such as the tiny hand-stitched doll dresses lovingly sewn by her great-aunt which found their way into a shadowbox where they are on permanent display in our home today. But as for the old photos, school yearbooks, pressed corsages from proms, and tattered costumes? Most went in the dumpster.
Why, I wondered, did she keep so few things? One explanation is that being a practical woman she realized most of it would just move from one dusty attic to another, leaving more for our own kids to dispose of in later years. On the other hand someone once said, “don’t cry when it’s over, smile because it happened”, which seems to reflect Tee’s philosophy about the past and perhaps better explains her lack of emotional attachment to most of those old keepsakes.
As good as life may have seemed in the past there is a certain attitude that says, “today is my best day and tomorrow will be even better.” It is an attitude that focuses on the present and the future rather than dwelling in the past. Don’t get me wrong, our home is filled with family heirlooms and treasures from the past, reminders of our loved ones and family history. The past is rich in the sweet memories it offers, the instructions on how to live our lives going forward – and hopefully it causes us to smile because it happened. As the prophet Isaiah urged the people, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Focus instead on today, make it your best day – and may tomorrow be even better.