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Looking Back
By: James Claire
For 40 years I have moved forward, even when it hurt. Human nature is to turn back, to comfort that which grieved, to forgive, to forget. Instead, I moved on.

I write a lot about my mother. She was, after all, the one responsible for my being here. She also steered this rudderless ageing hulk through many a stormy night in the turbulent oceans of life. She was responsible for filling my head with life’s anecdotes. Of all of them, I have lived my life according to one in particular: Always move on and never look back.

If a girlfriend walked out, I never sought reconciliation. If I left a city that I thought I would die to ever leave, I never went back. Mother’s philosophy was that things just are never the same or as good the second time around; so cut the loss and move on.

This philosophy carried through to everything; even restaurants. Sometimes I tried to prove her wrong but, more often than not, a return to the establishment of an amazing dinner all too often was simply never as good on the second visit.

And then there were jobs and with it came career advancement, management dissatisfaction, arguments with colleagues and tight budgets. For whatever reason, over time I have walked away from some pretty good jobs.

But a son’s love for his mother, the trust in a parent’s words and her knowledge as an older person made me abide by what she had taught me. So, I never went back; but here’s the thing. My mother was wrong!

Not about much, but on this particular topic, she was 100 per cent wrong. Perhaps it is the clarity of my age, the changing of our times, a shift in humanity or as William Gates III put it: “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” On a giant’s shoulders I have stood; the giant’s name is ‘Time’.

Time has proven a better teacher than my mother. I see now that, in some cases, when a change comes, it is neither good nor bad. It is there for that reason — change.

Sometimes instead of walking away and refusing to go back we just need a time-out to re-think, to re-strategise and to re-focus our priorities or those of others. Instead of seeing going back negative, we should look at it as a positive.

I think many relationships could be saved this way; divorce rates could fall too. Instead of saying I’ll never go back and viewing a break as condemnation of defeat or bitterness, we should use a time-out to live, change, restructure life and then give it another go.

If a child does something bad, we allow a time-out. Why can’t big kids have time-outs too?
Marriages were a concept started when life expectancy was far lower. Sixty or 70 years was just never conceived when the words “through sickness and in health” were first written. Instead of walking away forever, walk away for a while. Try again. Love is after all about forgiveness “for better or worse”.

I wish I had seen this clarity earlier. Sometimes it’s not about going back, but moving forward in a reverse motion.