Looking in the Rear View Mirror

A few years ago, I was driving from Baltimore, Md back to Syracuse, NY, after visiting family. The roads going from Baltimore, to get to Interstate 83 and then on to Interstate 81, can be pretty treacherous, especially during construction season! Curves, barriers, concrete dividers and (fast) bumper to bumper traffic, mean we’ve got to pay attention.

But once we’re on 81, it’s pretty much a straight shot to Syracuse, and on a good day it’s a nice ride with great scenery, even in the rear view mirror! Remembering a great trip, being with family, fairly straight roads, great scenery in the rear-view mirror, unencumbered speed (let’s say 70, for conversation’s sake), can make for a pretty comfortable trip home.

On one such perfect stretch of road– I forget exactly where along the trip — I’d spent a little too much time looking at what was behind me, and as my eyes leveled back on the road ahead, my heart sank. I took a huge deep breath and began to panic.

The shoulders on this stretch of road actually sloped off and downhill a few feet. You might expect to see a couple of timid deer eyeing the road — but NOT what appeared to be an unmanned car popping up from the hill, and headed straight across the road!

Just as it topped the incline, this kid ran forward from the side, opened the door and jumped into the driver’s seat, and starter feverishly turning the steering wheel. Four laughing teenagers, pushing this car up that incline, and HIS job was to get in, turn right as hard and fast as he could so the car didn’t go out into the road where . . .  I was in the perfect path to broadside them . . . at “clear-highway” speeds.

But luckily, that didn’t happen. They were laughing and giving high-five’s  to each other, quite proud of their win. I was near gasping for breath, heart pounding, imagining “what if” I’d been distracted a couple of seconds longer, by “my past.”

This incident really did happen and all ended well; but it mimics what a lot of us do in our lives.

Many people spend a lot of their time looking in their mental rear-view mirror. They re-live their negative past and binge-watch mental movies of past misses or failures, or “near” failures, instead of learning from those experiences and applying the lessons they learned. Instead, they convince themselves that their past is their destiny and don’t even try. But, in the words of Anthony Robbins, “our past does not equal our future.”

Some people, however, have things in their past that they’re very proud of! They did a phenomenal job, and they stay focus on the “then,” looking into that rear-view mirror, proud of who they were and what they did “back then” and fearing they can never repeat it or top it, and, so . . .  end up not trying. Instead what they need to remember, is than an old skill not used will atrophy. You’ve already developed and tested your mettle. Stop looking in the rear view mirror at what you did, and look out the front windshield to what you can still accomplish, in the future, with those same skills. “You still got it!”

Look in our rear view mirrors — at the good or the bad — serves to keep us from focusing in the now. And there is only now — to do anything. The past is gone and cannot be changed. And the future doesn’t exist yet. So the only time we can actually affect, is the NOW we inhabit this minute. Ergo, there’s no time like the present, might be modifed, “there’s no time EXCEPT the present.  Have fun with it.

Here’s little 90-second motivator that goes perfectly with this post. If you’ve heard it before, enjoy it again. If this is your first time hearing it, come back and listen often.

Have a beautiful day.



Kelvin Ringold

Born to John and Lora Ringold on October 24, 1953, grew up, went to school, graduated high school and joined the Air Force -- turned 18 in basic training. Did 20 years in the Air Force and retired in 1991. Moved to Syracuse, worked at University Hospital and retired from there at 55. During that 55 years... I learned some lessons, one of which is that LIFE is what we make it. I spend a major portion of my waking hours helping other people figure out the same thing. Life is what we make of it, and... "when you master your mindset, you master your life." That's my mission: living it, and teaching it.

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