That’s not to knock Bob Seger. I’m a huge fan. But if you listen to his lyrics, you start to notice a pattern.
“Night Moves.” “Like a Rock.” “Main Street.” “Against the Wind.” Each song is about an older man looking back on his youthful self.
Seger’s all about nostalgia. That’s his thing.
And I suppose I’m a fan because nostalgia is my thing, too.
I think all of us reminisce about the past to some degree. We think back to bygone days – to roads not taken, missed opportunities, relationships never pursued.
It’s only natural to daydream about what could have been – to ponder what never was.
In a lifetime composed of divergent paths, we can’t help but muse about routes not traveled.
But at what point does nostalgia transform to living in the past? When does innocent remembrance turn into wistful reminiscence?
If I’m honest with myself, my glory days weren’t that glorious. That’s not to say they were unpleasant, but I don’t look back on them with sepia-colored lenses and bask in my youthful exuberance.
They were a time in my life that’s passed. They helped forge me into who I am, but I can’t go back to relive them.
Nor would I want to. I don’t want to be like Napoleon Dynamite’s uncle, buying a mail-order time machine to get back to 1982. (Quick aside: If you ever do buy a time machine, make sure it has at least a two-year warranty. And make sure you don’t travel more than two years into the future, because that will void the warranty. Trust me; I’ve thought this one through.)
Yet I have a definite penchant for the past. I love looking at photos and home movies. I often think back to 10 years before, wishing I could relive certain moments and do-over others.
But reminiscence can quickly take over your life. And every moment you spend reflecting on the past is a moment you’re missing in the present.
Now more than ever, I’m dedicated to embracing the present.
Instead of lamenting missed opportunities, I’m looking forward to new ones.
Rather than pondering what could have been, I’m dreaming more about what could be.
Instead of gazing backward, I’ll set my focus on the horizon.
It’s easier to grieve for the past than it is to live for the moment. Grieving for what never was gives you an excuse not to change what is.
Embracing the here and now means taking responsibility for your life – and that’s scary. There are so many options and innumerable ways to fail.
But the past isn’t coming back. And that’s OK. We don’t need to go back in time to turn it all around. Second chances aren’t exclusive to 1982.
We have this moment, today, to make our lives what we want. We can choose our own destinies. We can blaze our own trails.
Interestingly, my favorite Bob Seger song is “Roll Me Away.”
And unlike his other tunes, it has nothing to do with reminiscing about the past.
Instead, it’s all about embracing the now.
It’s about a guy who climbs on his motorcycle one day and takes off for adventures unknown.
He cherishes the moment. He savors life.
I can’t think of a better anthem to embody my newfound penchant for the present.
And like Seger says in the song: “This time, we’ll get it right.”