Wishing Forward, not Backward

Wishing is a human trait that has (like all of our traits) a dual nature: good and bad or helpful and harmful.

Perhaps too often, we find ourselves wishing that our past had been different. In extreme cases, this backward looking wish mental activity becomes so obsessive that we fail to experience the moment as anything but mental anguish. And here is the worst part: when we fail to wish forward, hope barely glimmers in the dark depressions that can follow.

The moon reflecting the light of the sun back to us–reminding us that even in times of darkness, light remains.

If we think about it, a backward wish cannot do anything, while a forward wish can move mountains. As trite as it may sound, we cannot change the past, but we can change the future. But the future will not change if our present is mired in regret, guilt, anger, self-pity, inactivity, self-loathing, self-abuse, etc.

Fishing is essentially a wish-forward activity! “Fish” and “wish” rhyme…coincidence?

Our physical, earth-bound selves are wired to learn from mistakes: this is, of-course, a key survival mechanism built into our humanity. So it is very easy to let this natural tendency to obsess over past mistakes occupy more of our minds than than future actions and possibilities. This is why I believe it takes so much more human effort to wish forward than backward.

Another strange thing about our humanity, is how intense and vivid our memories are of past mistakes and emotional trauma. For example, I have had gout attacks off and on for the past ten years. When the attack is on, the pain is so intense that I could almost cut off my foot or leg to get rid of it. But when the attack is over, I cannot bring up a vivid memory of the hurt. Whereas, some remote emotional hurt, like when I was insulted or had lost/failed some dream of years ago, can come to the surface/present with the same burning intensity.

We hold the future in our hands, and the past is beyond our reach or repair.

These two aspects of our humanity may be why our wishing tends to be more backward than forward, thus doing us and our brief time on this planet more harm than good.

So when I find myself falling into those backward wishes, I have to make the effort to start wishing forward, kindling hope instead of despair. It works almost all the time (for me) to pull me out of that dark world of regret, guilt, and lost hopes/dreams. It changes my focus to what can be from what was and cannot be any different.

“If you never shoot, you can never score.” – Wayne Gretzsky. “If you never cast, you can never catch.” – Marv Machura

Perhaps this is why so many people find prayer helpful? Because prayer is essentially a wish forward and can be a very powerful weapon against those mean adversaries of guilt and self-pity.

As far as we know, the Universe goes forward, not backward. So should we.

Marv Machura with daughter, Emily. “Teach your children to pray” May be another trite expression, but prayer may be one the of the most effective wish-forward techniques we have!