Tracks In The Dust

A Father's Advice About Learning the Mission of Life

Archive for the tag “Looking Back”

Forgotten More than I Remember

It is very easy to say “I have forgotten more things than I remember”


But it is funny how something someone says can trigger a memory, how something you see or a song you hear can unlock something that may be years old in your head. Or maybe a smell. I have heard it say that smells are the strongest sense that connects us to recollection of our past.

Today I opened the back door to let the dogs out in the yard, and got the strong smell of pine trees washing its way back in the door on the cool morning air. Immediately I propelled decades back to a day when my best high school chums and I had gone up in the northern woods to stay at a cabin. We had partied pretty hard ( as we were known to do in those days) and we had all gotten up early for some reason. We were sitting on the deck in front of the cabin and chasing “the hair of the dog” (which we were also known to do in those days).

The morning was glorious, the sun was rising over the pines. There were blue-jays in the trees calling out their sharp retort, and loons on the lake ( if you have never hear laughing loons- it is a treat of nature)l The lake was like a mirror and swirls of fish could be seen all over the lake as they came up to feed. The smell of pine was floating over the lake.

We had music playing in the back ground. It was some sort of jazz music. We were listening to so much stuff back then but it was saxophone ( Turrentine, Washington. or something like that). It was a moment to cherish. It was an idyllic  moment that we would let come and go on our youthful travel forward.

Maybe that’s why the memory came back today in the simple opening of a door? This precious moment that in my youth was something nice, but in my older years ( and wiser I hope) it means so much more. It is remembering something that was so rich and full of life. It is good to remember that in my minds-eye. A gift.

Making History Disappear

When I was younger I was fortunate to have been taught the value of history. Its perspectives, its meaning, the reasons that things happened in the past and the way things got to where they are now. It is all part of the value of understanding history.

History Disappears

It’s great in our modern times that we have so many ways to learn about history. History channels on TV, history websites, documentary movies and books written about some of the most influential people and times in Earth’s past.

But also it seems today that we are more eager than ever to erase parts of history. By distorting it in those same places that supply it, and even more so by erasing its reference in the culture we live in. It is a delicate balance for sure. Our racial and political prejudices make for what seems valid reasons to just eradicate any current reference to those things deemed unacceptable now. As they may have seemed right in the past, today they may seem very biased, cruel or insensitive to how things are in the “now.”

But we are in the times of the “information age” where information is readily available at the push of a button. We have to be careful to understand that just because we have an abundance of information – doesn’t mean we have an abundance of “knowledge”.  Erasing the past entirely for the sake of the future would be most difficult, but erasing the memories of what those things are in the past can be very easy. In the course of that effort, the generations ahead will be unaware of what brought them to that point.

So my advice to my kids? 

Understand history and respect it. My father and my wife’s father both fought in World War 2. They are remembered by their children, but as my kids grow up and they have children they will have a different perspective. Even the veterans of the Vietnam era will only be a fact in the history data that will exist on the Internet or in books or movies. It may only seem like another fiction book or story to some of them

When history gets erased, it will open up the opportunity for it to be repeated. With no lessons learned, generations ahead will not understand the perspectives on which we got to where we are… they will go in and blindly misunderstand the reasons for things.

Erasing history and the references to things around is can be labeled as “progress” or “the correct thing to do” – and that is always going to happen. But it has accelerated because we live in the age where an abundance of information and opinion is shared with everyone.  So everyone’s opinion is supposed to count, but with regard to history- the basis for formulating those opinions are lost in history (or the lack of its understanding).


You Can Never Go Back

Lately I have found myself with the chance to visit with old friends I haven’t seen in ages. It has been an absolute joy. The echoes of the remembrances are fun to hear, and I have realized they have so much importance in who I am today.

But as much fun as it is to look at the past and enjoy the things that made that time special (although it didn’t always seem that special at the time), just can’t help thinking about the adage ” You can never go back” Stairs To Climb

That isn’t a bad thing, if you did go back in time knowing what you know now, it would certainly be different. If you went back to the present day friends and haunts from the past, it wouldn’t be the same either. Yes, it is okay to visit and capture those memories and have a chance to relive some of the experience. But in the long-run you will out stay your welcome – reality comes back and you would notice you are older (but hopefully wiser) – maybe a bit more jaded and less willing to accept the things that may not have bothered you in the past.

  • So as my wife and I have said to our kids often enough, be sure to be facing forward in your life, look for the next opportunity to grow in your life, spiritual growth, and all of the things that you can reach for.
  • Don’t forget who you are either, It is that past that brought you here. You cannot discard it like it didn’t happen, you lived it and it served you as well as it could. You made good decisions, experienced bad ones, had some luck and misfortune along the way.
  • Take nothing for granted, life is short and you need to wrap yourself in all of what it is- past, present and future. But you can’t ever go back and have it be the same,.. but the future is left to be written.

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