“Never look back,” they say. “You’re not going that way.”
Maybe so, but I think there’s value peeking at the rear view.
Last weekend, I drove past the first house I bought in Michigan. Actually, I did more than that. I parked in the driveway and stayed for a few minutes. 22 years ago, my wife and I brought our twin daughters home from the hospital to that house. We carefully set their car seats down on the hardwood floor and began our lives as a family. Today, I live 600 miles away in Tennessee, and those babies are beautiful young women.
I didn’t think I’d feel too much driving by the old house. I fully expected to get angry over the terrible job the current owners do on the landscaping, and I was right. Horrible. But as I pulled in, something unexpected happened. I stared off onto the front lawn and I saw myself posing for a picture holding my one-year-old daughter, Megan. The same girl I just walked down the aisle a few short weeks ago.
I wondered if I had that picture somewhere in the attic.
And there he is. The young husband. The new dad. He thinks his round shades and leather jacket are pretty cool. He’s happy and he’s freaking out. He’s confident except when he’s not. He thinks about himself way more than he thinks about others.
I want to step out of my car, walk over to that spot, take a seat on the grass and somehow reach through time and have a word with him.
I would tell him how fast it goes.
I would tell him that life is an adventure and Saginaw, Michigan is only where it began. I would tell him that happiness is a decision not a destination.
I would tell him not to expect a straight line, but a soul-crushing, wandering route.
I would tell him he will fail at a few things, but he will never fail her.
“Never look back,” they say. “You’re not going that way.” Maybe so, but I enjoyed my visit back to the starting line. I see this guy’s future. I’m smarter than him, and I know that everything he worries about is pointless.
And just as I was feeling all weathered and wise, something dawned on me. What if, as I’m walking back to my car, 80-year-old Curt is waiting for me in the passenger seat? What if he found a way to reach through time too?
He sees my future.
He’s smarter than me.
Maybe everything I worry about is pointless.
What will he say to me?
Looking forward. Glancing back.