Sam Radford

August 5, 2021

The past vs. the future

I had a conversation with a friend of mine from Germany a month or so ago. 

We ended up discussing our relationship to the past and to the future. In the midst of our back and forth, I ended up saying this:

We look to the past nostalgically but we look to the future fearfully.

It’s a generalisation, but there’s a kernel of truth here.

Most of us have a tendency to look backwards with rose-tinted glasses. We remember the best times and tune out the worst. Hence we end up longing for what was, rather than what could be.

We feel like the past is known and the future unknown. As a result, the past seems like a safer option to hold onto. We find ourselves looking into the future and see it as something to be tamed rather than explored. 

To be clear, life doesn’t have to be either-or here! We need to look back and we need to look forwards. But we must guard against missing out on a better future because we are craving a past that never was.

–Sam

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