By Ken Anderson, The Mayberry Guru, firstname.lastname@example.org
When I first learned to drive, I learned to focus on the road ahead and take only quick glances in the rearview mirror. When driving a car, it is more important to see what is in front of you than behind. It is also more enjoyable to see the new places where you are headed rather than the places you are leaving behind.
These same principles can often apply to life's journey. When young, a person looks forward with eagerness. There are so many exciting experiences that lie ahead. When one is young, life's experiences in the past are not nearly as meaningful as those experiences that lie ahead.
However, this can all change as the years quickly pass. The older I have become, the more memories I have. And as I focus on those memories, I realize how important they are. I am now well into my seventh decade of life. I have many more miles behind me than I do ahead of me. Unlike my early years of driving, I now spend less time looking forward and far more time looking in life's rearview mirror. I enjoy looking back at the experiences I have behind me rather than the uncertainties awaiting me.
Reliving one's past through memories can provide comfort and improve mental health. One recent medical study has looked at the physiological effects of thinking about past 'good' memories. They found that thinking about the past 'fondly' increased perceptions of physical warmth. This study also found that looking to the future can cause anxiety in one's life due to the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
When I look in my rearview mirror, I see a much younger and healthier person. I see myself with endless energy, constantly on the go doing all sorts of fun and exciting activities. I can even see myself as a child growing up in the small village of Dorchester, where my life was much simpler and so safe. I look through that rearview mirror and see all the friends and family I once had but who are no longer a part of my life.
But now, as I look forward, I see declining health, passing friends, and uncertainty about where I may live. However, looking ahead is not all gloom and doom. While I understand that my health and mental facilities may decline in the coming years, some great times may await me. I am fortunate to have many friends, my wife, and varied interests to occupy my time in the coming years. So while I will continue to enjoy looking back through life's rearview mirror, I plan to also look ahead with anticipation and hope.