Don’t go back,

There’s better ahead.

Over a month ago I drove up to the house we lived in before. I had one motivation: how big was the birch tree now? But it wasn’t there. The new owners had cut it down. I remembered the joy I had felt when it was first planted, the anticipation of it growing tall and making the front more beautiful with its delicate leaves, silver bark and dappled shade. But someone else had not had those same thoughts. Maybe it had been diseased, maybe they had not realised what it would become. I learnt my lesson. You can’t go back. You have to embrace what you have in front of you right now.

I’m sure I’m not the only person guilty of hankering back to the way things were. As good as your memory tells you they were, they are not your present. When I remind my two teenagers about when they were small I know one of them is inwardly rolling his eyes and the other is wondering whether she should remind me I’ve told her this many times before.

Good memories are great to treasure, but they will never be enough to get you through. It might even be that some of them bring unexpected pain now. Like the empty space where the birch tree used to be. Whenever we meet someone else, we need to bear that in mind; they might carry memories of a fragile past that we don’t entirely appreciate. The new neighbours didn’t know what that tree meant. Why would they? I’ll try and remember the birch and tread gently over other people’s dreams.

Did you notice the new shoot in that tree stump? A sign of new growth perhaps. Are you able to see that in your own life? Most of the time all I can see is the worst of what has happened. The stump. But something new and good is rising up, if only we have the eyes to see it.

I’m thinking about that now, and remembering all of the good things in my past.

Because surely there will be more of that in the future too.

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