“You’ve got that look in your eyes again,” she says, with a worried look in her own. She doesn’t have to tell me.
Over the last few years, the look has come to my eyes more and more often. I want to blame it on getting older. I want to say it is the result of caring too much, of being too conscientious.
I want to. I can’t.
The Teacher reassured His followers with the comforting words. “Tomorrow will worry about itself. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I have no argument with the logic and I don’t often find myself worrying about tomorrow. I do, however, worry about yesterday.
That’s right. Yesterday.
I stack the bad decisions, the sad events, and the unfinished business higher and higher until it has nowhere to topple but on my head. I remember what that person said and keep a record of what this friend did, saving it all up to map out the future with my hard-gained wisdom and my understanding of human nature.
I like historical perspective. I want to think it makes the future more predictable. I’m beginning to believe, rather than providing focus, that the past often makes the path ahead more blurry.
Are you a collector? Do you have things that you gather up and hoard?
I do. Old shoes.
In my closet, there is a pile of black leather shoes. Each pair looks just like the other. Size ten and a half. D width. There are probably six pairs of Rockwell Pro-Walker shoes sitting on the floor. Well, they may be piled up someplace else, too. I really don’t recall.
You see, I buy a new pair of the same shoes each year. The old ones get worn and don’t look so good, nor do they feel as comfortable as they first did. I don’t buy lots of shoes, don’t need a different shoe for every occasion, just the Rockwell Pro-Walkers. And, I do realize that old, worn-out shoes have limited uses. One of the reasons I keep them around is for when I need to do dirty work: digging in the mud, mowing the lawn, or other such tasks. But, I suppose one pair would suffice for that.
Why then, do I have six pairs of old shoes in my closet? (There would be more, but I’m pretty sure the Lovely Lady sneaks them out to the trash when I’m not looking.) I really can’t explain it. There might be a lot of dirty jobs to do and I’ll have to have more than just one pair of old worn-out shoes. I don’t want to need them and not have them. What if the ones I use for mowing get torn up? What then?
My niece looked up at the mantle at my house today and asked a perfectly reasonable question. “Uncle Paul, why do you keep a clock that doesn’t work?”
As I glanced at the old clock sitting there, my brain flipped through the possible answers I could give to the inquisitive nine-year old. “It used to tell time just fine,” didn’t seem to make sense. “I’m going to get it fixed someday,” was a little better, but still short of the mark.
I finally settled on the following piece of wit and wisdom. The truth is, it seems neither witty nor very wise, as I consider it tonight. “Well honey, that clock is actually right at least twice a day. That’s why I keep it.”
She wasn’t impressed with my logic. I’m not either.
It’s not a great reason to keep a non-functioning clock sitting on the mantle, is it? The clock is of no practical use whatsoever. Come to think of it, neither are those extra pairs of worn-out shoes. It may be time to see what else is taking up space in my closet.
For that matter, a lot of the clutter in my head needs to be disposed of, as well.
Life is too short, too precious, to waste in letting the past overshadow the future. It’s too short to let that look in my eyes change the focus of my vision. Time to clear out the old; time to deal with each new day as it comes.
I think I’m going to let Someone else worry about what comes next.
He’s already taken care of the past, hasn’t He?
“Be still my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.”
(from the hymn “Be Still My Soul” ~ Katharina Von Schegel)
“Charity gives itself rich; Covetousness hoards itself poor.”
(Old German proverb)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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