I am inexperienced in the ways of driving vehicles. I was a late bloomer — mostly because I could afford to be. I lived within a half-hour walk of anywhere I needed to go, and if that wasn’t the case I usually knew somebody who could drive me where I wanted to go. There was no rush, no need for me to get my driver’s license, and as a result I’m about three years behind everybody else my age who got their driving permits when they were sixteen. My reflexes haven’t been honed, and I feel uncomfortable driving large, extended cab trucks, but one of the most important pieces of knowledge that’s been passed on to me is this: Your rearview and side mirrors are your new best friends. Your backseat drivers have nothing on these mirrors.
They’re all the rage in driving circles, or so I’ve been told. That’s probably because checking your rearview mirror is utterly necessary if you want to stay safe while driving. So much of driving depends on your ability to keep your attention focused on the road ahead of you. Forward is where most of the danger that you can prevent is going to be coming from. Forward is the direction that you’re going; therefore forward is where your eyes will be.
But sometimes, to continue forward while driving, to progress, to get to your destination, you might have to switch lanes. It’s those moments when your mirrors are crucial, because you have to look at what’s behind you.
To progress in life, sometimes you have to look behind you at the things that you’ve already passed. Sometimes you have to look in your rearview mirror to be able to move forward.
I don’t know what this past year has brought you. If I had to hazard a guess, I would think this year brought you crushing heartbreak and overwhelming joy. It probably also came along with a smattering of things in between. Maybe it was a good year, and it’s easy to look back and take in everything that you’ve gone through. On the other hand, however, maybe your year was a year of struggle. Maybe it was a year of heartbreak. Maybe it was a year of not really wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
No matter what kind of year you had, look back while you move forward.
It doesn’t have to be a long look. It’s more of a glance, really, because it’s important to keep your eyes on the road ahead. This glance is a chance to revel in the good memories of the year, tucking them fondly away in your mind. And if your memories happen to be the ones that you would rather forget, I assure you—this look back is necessary. It’s necessary because you aren’t there anymore. Even if you are still struggling, even if you feel like you are driving through a white-out blizzard, you are not where you were. You have progressed. You have moved forward. You are that much closer to your destination.
We’re moving forward now. It’s time to move our eyes ahead after our glance back at the year. It’s time to switch lanes because nothing from our past will overtake us. It’s on to the next year, a wide-open highway. The look back was necessary, even if things might be feeling a lot closer now than they did before you looked.
Whatever happened, it is behind you. It is part of you. It may have defined this year, but it is not you in your entirety. You are a collage, a patchwork quilt. The memories of this past year are important because they are shaping the person you’re becoming. And it’s entirely possible that you’ve heard this many times before, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I find that sometimes we need the reminder.
You’re in the driver’s seat of your life, and you’ve checked your mirrors.
It’s time to move forward.