On looking back

There’s a saying that goes something like “don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” Or how about “You can’t drive forward by looking in the rear view mirror.” I was cruising Pinterest today and ended up on a page surrounded by these kinds of sentiments.

I prefer Søren Kierkegaard’s take on it. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. That is the truest thing.

I am desperate to understand everything and so I am constantly taking stock, searching the (metaphorical) map for the little red arrow that says ‘You are Here’.

If we’re not careful, we let the narrator in our heads double as navigator. I don’t know about you, but mine was always crashing and her map-reading skills were dismal. Most of the time the narrator couldn’t even get the lay of the land let alone tell me which path to take in any given social setting. So, I took her keys away until we could get on the same page and for me, that is a literal page; My Morning Pages.

When I first started doing them again I was horrified by the mind-garbage I was spewing onto the pages each morning. I really didn’t want to be writing out all the things that were wrong with my life each morning, but I had to get a handle on where I was. If I can introduce yet another metaphor, if I wanted to clean the house, I needed to see the dirt, as Louise Hay once said. I know a lot of people shy away from writing a journal precisely for this reason. If my husband had read some of the early pages he would have been very worried about my stability, and for good reason. I was a mess, and that mess was slowly leaching out of my heart, mind, and soul and onto the page.

Then I started using some journaling prompts to help me move on from my daily litany of woes. I started out with Gabby Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles and another book that I just can’t seem to recall right now. Once I felt a little better I pulled out The Artist’s Way again and bought a couple of art journals. But all of that would have been useless if I hadn’t been able to empty out, to get real with myself and what was going on inside. I was prepared to empty myself out on to the page because I was sick to death of the toxic waste that was building up inside my mind. I know I go on about it (and on and on and on) but I credit journaling with saving my sanity and possibly my life. I can’t recommend it enough.


  1. Kalliope

    I love this. I can pretty safely say I have had the absolute opposite life path experience to you. Let’s extend the travelling metaphor and go with the 2 way road. Blinkers to indicate turning, or merger of lanes.
    I’ve always been a great navigator, a fine sense of direction. Reading maps was a happy favourite pastime of mine. I’d legit read the UBD and loved to see what roads led where and locate the pedestrian pathways. I’ve also consistently kept a journal or notebook throughout my life. One online and another offline.
    oh Christine, you inspire such words from me. I will write a blog post, because this comment has been written and pared back 3 times already. LOL TOO MANY WORDS SPEW OUT MY FINGERTIPS, can’t zip shut a “mouth” that one cannot touch.

    1. Christine Betts

      That’s what it’s all about, inspiring each other to greater heights, and depths. Funny thing is from the outside I probably appeared to know exactly where I was and where I was going but looking back, understanding backwards, I see that I was climbing to a point, or going to a land far away, just so I could realise how lost I was. And all this just to NEED to find my way home.
      Metaphor aside, I’m an excellent map reader. I didn’t even get lost in Venice! Ironic really.

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