Looking Back, Moving Forward
This week’s post is written by Rebecca Eldridge, a teacher at the CFM.
My father’s father used to take us kids on walks up mountainsides. I can close my eyes and see those mountains now. But mainly it’s my grandfather’s long legs that I recall, as I followed his steps so as not to slip on the jagged slate. We’d stop at points and look back down at road, at houses, at where we had started the climb.
That’s how it is with my life, and I’m guessing that it might be the same for you—that you look back, and that you can trace the path to exactly where you are right now. I don’t see how it could be any other way, really. With my logical mind, many of the steps I’ve taken made no sense at the time and caused me pain, but from the vantage of sitting here this morning, I see they were the perfect path to what and who I am today.
Pema Chödrön says that looking back is a wise way to see our progress, because if, instead, we focus on how much mountain is still ahead, we will certainly be overwhelmed. At the least we would try to avoid anything that might hinder us from getting to the top as fast as we can. And while such planning may make for effective mountaineering, it doesn’t work as well when it comes to our lives.
Sometimes my grandfather and I would stop and pick wildflowers from cracks in the mountain’s slate. That something so soft grew among hard rock amazed me, and I wondered if those flowers had caused the cracks simply by growing. I want to be like those flowers—soft yet resilient. I want to stop and notice cracks and beauty right where I am, look back at the path that has brought me here, then step out again with sure footing.