Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

The Crystal Ball of Hindsight

on July 2, 2015

I firmly believe that hindsight is the most powerful teaching tool that we have. Paths and possibilities that are hard to see now become so obvious when they move to the unchangeable safety of the past. Decisions can be reassessed, playing what if becomes easier because so much more information is available, and what was known at the time is simpler to weigh up and properly measure.

The past year has been very educational. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t looked back and wanted to kick myself for what is obvious today that I didn’t do yesterday. Every time I let my thoughts drift to the past it shows me another strategy that I didn’t use. Time is blurring into a frustrating sequence of could have, would have, should have.

It would be easy to berate myself and get negative about this process, but I also understand that it is something I need to be doing. No matter how I view this time in my life one year from now, I will not regret the lessons I am drawing from my mistakes, some of which have been spectacular. This reflection has shown me options that are still available, options that I might otherwise have missed entirely. Life will be very different in another 12 months.

Today I had my first session with a German tutor. We discussed the problems I have with the language, the strategies that I tried in the past, and what my capabilities with the language are. At the end of the session she told me that she doesn’t often have students who are as motivated as I am, and that I am clearly prepared. In that moment I paused, reflected, and decided she was right. I am incredibly motivated, and I am incredibly prepared. Then I quipped that preparation doesn’t do much good if you never get past the preparing and into the doing.

Things derailed for me a long time ago, and I have spent years since then preparing to make things better. I put an incredible amount of effort into the preparation, and I burn out just before I would achieve what I set up. There is always a new problem, something more urgent to take care of, and I hope that the old things I have prepared for will sort themselves out. Sometimes they don’t, but they do with enough frequency that I never notice my pattern unfolding again. The only thing that is guaranteed as things are is a life cluttered with half-finished projects.

The solution to resolving the tension in my life is to follow the path that allows me to finally and consistently act. Progress inspires progress; it becomes a habit that is harder to break with each passing day. Progressing defines you as someone who can, rather than someone who wants. It soothes regret and erases bitterness.

I should take all of this wisdom and do something great with it. I could work through the grammar exercises that I have. I could finish the pair of pants I am making for my daughter. I could work on my coding project. There are dozens of paths available to me. They all look equally promising; they all look equally terrifying. I just need to start walking and remember what I’ve learned.

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