Those tiny fragments of the past,
Like jewels I scattered underfoot,
To be picked and viewed underneath
The jeweler’s microscope
In finest detail it is seen,
Enjoyed enough to bring us hope.
I constantly hear that we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future and I think that’s brilliant advice. I totally agree that mindfulness and living in the present is the answer to a lot of our problems in the modern world. However, I also think that remembering the good times and thinking about nice things that could be happening in the future can be really soothing when nerves are frayed.
I don’t know about you but I have lots of memories of times that weren’t even that great, but the moment itself, made me feel so alive, and those are the moments that I like to reflect on when I’m struggling in the present.
One memory that keeps bubbling up at the moment dates from 2012 when I was training for my first English Channel swim. Every weekend I would drive down to Dover and go and train with the other crazy swimmers for six hours a day. We would just swim up and down the length of the harbour, whatever the weather. It was monotonous and cold and miserable but I knew that I had to do it if I was going to swim to France.
However, there was this one day that I remember more vividly than all of the others, when we had been going for about three hours when the heavens opened. It poured down so heavily that I couldn’t see the beach or any of the other swimmers. I could probably only see a couple of feet ahead of me and it was just a little bit scary.
But I kept paddling with my head up, the rain pelting my face so hard that it actually hurt. I was glad that I had goggles on to protect my eyes. And just as I was starting to feel a bit anxious about the fact that the coastline had completely disappeared from view, one of the other swimmer let out an enormous shout.
It wasn’t a shout of fear or pain though. It was more of a war cry; a whoop. I instantly went from fearful to full of… life. In that moment I realised that I wasn’t alone, bobbing around in the ocean; I was surrounded with wonderful people who were all experiencing something quite breathtaking with me. Just because I couldn’t see anybody else, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t sharing the journey.
As the rain eased and I got my head back down for the remaining three hours, I reminded myself that I should not let go of moments like that. I should remember them and cherish them. Those moments when life is so raw and so human and I am so very much at the mercy of mother nature. They are the moments we should dwell on when we struggle.
4 thoughts on “we’re told not to dwell on the past, but…”
I agree that those moments are incredibly important. They are part of who we are as people, and they have helped to form our identities. I think we can cherish memories without dwelling in the past.
Both the original actions and this narrative are impressive.
Dumb question… how does it work when you literally swim to another country… do you have to carry a passport? Do you have to present yourself to French authorities when you enter the country, or somehow prearrange your visit? And did you swim there and back, or was this a one-way swim?
Yes, you do need your passport because the French police can sometimes pull up alongside your boat and check everyone. I just did one way so I swam from England to France and the boat that accompanies you is in contact with British and French coastguard.