Past, present and future

Past, present and future

The above quotation written in several autograph books has a wealth of meaning in it. It triggered off in me a series of thoughts on the nexus between the past and present, and the present and future. Henry W. Longfellow, the poet who wrote `A Psalm of Life’, harped on the futility of dwelling incessantly on one’s past.

This is because one’s past is over and done with and the only relevance it has to one’s present is that if one has made a faux pas or mistake in the past, one should not repeat it in the present. Instead, one should discern and identify the mistake, learn a lesson in life from it and improve and ameliorate one’s character and personality.

Some misguided persons have made blatant mistakes in the past, but instead of forgetting the sordid episodes, they spend valuable man hours in the present brooding and repenting while dwelling futilely over the issue. This serves no purpose as it is over and done with and cannot be in any way altered or changed even by God. So, instead of “crying over spilt milk” or “flogging a dead horse”, one should let it go, learn its lesson and move on. In fact, how true is the following quotation, “One can’t change one’s past.”

Also, one can spoil a perfectly good present by worrying about the future. Just like the past is over and done with and it is futile worrying about it, in the same way, it is also futile worrying about the future, for it has not yet arrived and is therefore not yet in our hands. There is no need to get unnecessarily perturbed or het up at what it may bring in its wake. One should take it easy, without worrying about the future.

There is yet another useless approach regarding viewing the future. While one should not worry in the present about one’s future, one should also not daydream, fantacise and “build heady castles in the air” about one’s future which is point blank a waste of time. The future is ethereal and one’s perceptions on it may not be in tune with the times or they may be idealistic, unrealistic and  impractical.

Instead of dwelling on one’s past, which can’t change, or dwelling on one’s future which is yet to come, one should instead  focus whole heartedly with full attention and concentration on one’s present, for that is all one has conscious control of.

One should focus on using one’s thoughts, energy and actions on the present so that the future may emerge brighter, optimistic and sanguine. In this context, how true is the following quotation taken from the poem, `A Psalm of Life’ by W.H. Longfellow, “Trust no future, how’er pleasant! Let the dead past bury its dead! Act – act in the living Present! Heart within and God overhead!”

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