Having seen a fair bit of alumni activity from the institutes I have been part of, I often wonder about the reasonableness of the same. You would not come across an alumni organization that doesn’t say their college was the best. And it is hilarious when each class tries hard to proclaim how they were vastly superior to all the other classes that went by that same institution. Why do highly educated professionals try to lean back on their past and glory in what has gone by? Why do people cling on to memories as though there is no tomorrow? And is it worthwhile?

First, we need to realize that memories are man’s greatest treasures. Everything he has achieved, or accumulated or experienced gets stored in his memory and he treasures them and in fact even worships them.  None of the material possessions would have as much glitter and value but for the memories associated with them. This could take the form of research done, adventures undertaken, sporting feats accomplished, relationships formed, bank balances built or so on. Man looks back at his life and tries to dwell on the past and get some solace from what was accomplished. This gives him a sense of worth. It is especially satisfying when he is able to compare his memories with others and conclude that he is in someway better than the rest.

It is easy to understand that some memories- those that are painful, will hinder our progress in life and prevent us from taking charge of the future.

‘Dwelling on the past only blinds you to the future’. Andrew Boyd

Consider a person going through separation. The once beautiful memories of life with his or her spouse now become the most painful part of the past that must be quickly done away with, for progress.

But even for one who does not have to deal with painful memories, erasing the past is necessary to move on. Consider Markham, pioneer pilot’s statement.

“Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

I might not agree with Markham’s lifestyle or several viewpoints, but she is spot on with respect to memories. The future is far more formidable and many who dwell on the past are those who have turned away from the more formidable task of challenging the future. Conversely, those who relish the challenges of life and treasure what lies ahead will have little inclination to treasure the past.

“Forget the past”, the title of this article is a simple statement by Nelson Mandela. It was most likely inspired by the statement that God makes in Isaiah 43

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

‘Moving on’ and adopting a forward view of life is very much a Biblical concept. The Bible does admonish believers to remember many things especially when events have been the handiwork of God to teach man eternal lessons. But in general, the stronger emphasis in the Bible is to move on. This is because the Bible offers us an eternal destination. The hope a believer has in Christ becomes the rock for his life, an eternal anchor for the soul.

Can you imagine undertaking a project- a course or college or a project with no end in sight or no conclusion? Without a definitive answer to the end of life and without hope in the face of death, all man can do is lean back on to his past and glory in the memories of the years gone by. It surely will offer him solace, it will satisfy his ego, it will soothe his aching heart, but will it satisfy? Unlikely.

Instead do not dwell on the past, rather take hold of that which Christ offers- eternal life and hope, a true anchor for the soul.

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