Hindsight is 2020, Right?

Happy New Year, y’all. Yes, I’m still here. But I’ve been elsewhere and otherwise occupied for a longer while than I intended. I’ve been on a kind of sabbatical, I guess. We’ll call it “a sabbatical” because that sounds official, although I don’t know that I garnered much rest, and the only new skill I might have acquired for purposes of writing was fostering a deeper, more seething method of creative fermentation. Well, one hopes it will prove to be creative. Too much seething can make for a bitter brew. Time will tell. Check back in a couple of weeks and we’ll see if I am creating or sitting on the couch ruining the touchscreen TV remote with Dorito dust-stained fingers. But I digress. Naturally. Those of you who know me personally know how I like to remark that my life is just one long interruption of itself. But before I go too far astray …

I come here today to ponder “hindsight.” Hindsight is defined as recognizing the realities, potential issues, and details etc. of an event that has already passed or a decision that has already been made. The saying goes that hindsight is 20/20 because presumably we already know everything. But do we? Is your hindsight 20/20? If we are to learn from our mistakes and missteps, it must be. Yet, how many of us really examine the past event or decision from all angles required and in the depth required to have 20/20 vision truly? I will sometimes consider a decision made or an action not taken, assume the outcome would have been different (better) had I done something differently and then I move on. I. Move. On. I often fail to move through. I don’t always sit with my actions or decisions, place them back in the context of circumstances with which I was dealing, and really ferret out whether there might have been a different outcome or whether that difference might have mattered. If our hindsight really was 20/20, would we continue to be haunted by the same mistakes, failures, annoyances, bad habits, flawed decision-making? Maybe. Then what good is having 20/20 vision if we aren’t going to do anything with it?

We’ve talked about this before as it relates to writing poetry. The poet has a willingness to move through painful things in order to examine and reflect on them instead of moving on from them as quickly as possible. Poets are odd that way and are more willing to take on the emotional burden of negative experiences (perhaps, not more “willing,” just less able to avoid it); but they also are able to experience and share the full deep well of joy, so it works out. The thing is, poet or not, everyone must move through things in order to learn, to heal, to breathe again. Yes, yes — some things are not worth all that time and effort; move ON from some things. Learning to tell the difference is also a skill.

It is the year 2020. It’s just too on the nose to ignore. I think in order for my vision of what is ahead to be better, my hindsight really does need to be better. 2020 will be a year of change for me and, perhaps for the first time, the notion of change doesn’t scare me. The idea of moving on from things that have proven unhelpful exhilarates me. Some of my “sabbatical” was spent stewing in the cauldron of a recipe that just hasn’t been working for me. I started changing the recipe by adding new ingredients without really thinking about it much, until I did think about it. Intentionality is another good attribute, yes? Forget the recipe metaphor. Remember this: the decisions you make matter. But you aren’t in charge of everything. You are buffeted by circumstances and other people’s decisions and actions and weather and the entire universe of things you cannot control. And yet you have so much power. You are a free agent. Claim your agency.

All the while I have been contemplating 2020, the concept of “change” has been a siren call. So I guess we’ll be doing some things differently around here. I’ll be making good use of hindsight because that’s where I’ll find my baseline. It won’t always be pretty, but past mistakes are only millstones for people who want to avoid change, who will accept the lie that “it’s too late” or “there’s no hope” in order to justify their refusal to claim their own agency. I refuse to do that anymore. I invite you to consider “change,” to get comfortable with the notion of it, and to remember that small changes can make big differences, like the difference between a hug and a handshake, or the difference between choosing to create or ruining the touchscreen TV remote with Dorito dust-stained fingers. FWIW, eating Doritos and watching TV during the day would also be a change for me, but not the kind I’m looking forward to experiencing. In conclusion, now seems like the appropriate time to offer this bit of well-worn advice just for laughs: Make lasting changes! I love oxymorons. Meet you back here soon. SBL

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