Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Staring in the Rear View Mirror

A couple of days ago, I merged into some heavy traffic on a highway and then immediately began to fidget as the truck I was driving behind drove at half the speed limit while the passing lane zoomed by.

Intent on changing my situation, I monitored the traffic in the passing lane with the mirrors of my vehicle, waiting for the right moment to inject myself into the lane that would assuredly take me to where I needed to go in a faster manner.

At some point, I realized as I was driving along that in fact, I was entirely focused on the traffic in my mirror and wasn't paying any attention to what was going on in front of me.  There might have been things of beauty around me or immediate danger in front of me.  I was too busy paying attention to what was behind me while at the same time, not being happy with how fast I was getting to my destination.

As I corrected my driving behavior, I experienced a little A-HA moment as I realized how similar this is to the life that many people live.

For many people, their focus is on what is behind them and includes reminiscing about:

  • their successes and great memories - they relive these over and over with delight and perhaps with a touch of nostalgia or sadness when they think "will I ever experience that again",  the more detrimental thought "why can't I ever experience that again" or the completely negative "I will never experience Life as good as that"
  • their failures, or rather, what they perceive to be failures - which they use to constantly bash themselves as they think "I wish I had done .....", "I wish I had known ...." or the more caustic "Why wasn't I smart enough to ...."
  • their losses and how they would give anything to have their time back again to regain what they have lost
  • thoughts of better or easier times, forgetting that with newly acquired knowledge, their potential for their best result ever is in front of them.

We have all met people focused on their rear-view mirror of Life.  There are times when perhaps we were the one focused on the rear-view mirror when it was important to be looking forward.  I know I have done this more than once, especially recently.

When we do this, so many opportunities to manifest positive new results in our future may become harder to achieve.  After all, if we can't see the promise of a new day because we are consumed by yesterday, how do we expect to manifest a greater result?   I know that as I stared in my mirror the other day, I drove past a beautiful lake that I happened to also notice in my mirror.  It was too late to appreciate it once it faded in the distance behind me.

In the same manner, Life presents a plethora of opportunities to witness its beauty when we are looking around us and not just behind us.  Opportunities to witness the miracles of Life and to make a difference to others manifest around us when we are paying attention and open to the opportunities; opportunities that are only visible when we are not trapped in where we have come from.

By the same token, danger may also be lurking in front of us when we are consumed by that which is behind us.  Many of us have experienced a moment where our attention may have faded for a moment while driving, only to be suddenly alerted by a passenger whose quick alarm of "watch out" brought us back to reality.

Looking backwards on occasion is important and has value.  Just as looking in the mirror occasionally for a brief moment helps make our travel safer and more enjoyable, looking in the mirror of Life to revisit good or bad memories has importance for establishing a more enjoyable Life journey moving forward.

Just don't get stuck staring into the mirror and forget that while you are doing this, you are still moving forward towards something!

As we drive through Life, think about this.

You have just entered a tunnel and in the distance, there is a light.  Is it the light that signals the end of the tunnel, with sunshine illuminating a beautiful, majestic scene in the mountains or is the light in fact a train rapidly moving towards you? 

You will never know and never have the opportunity to enjoy or avoid what's in front of you if you are focused on watching the light of the tunnel entrance fade in your rear view mirror.

Let's be cognizant of our "driving" habits as we are blessed to enjoy the abundance, opportunities and love all around us.  It is good to check our mirrors once in a while and observe that which is behind us as we move forward.  However, let's be aware that manifesting our Life purpose is a lot easier to achieve when we are focused on the direction we are traveling rather than being focused on where we were.

Yours in service and servanthood.



  1. Great analogy Harry! I think another way to put it is to take the time to enjoy the view from your side windows as well as through the windshield. Sometimes focusing too much only on that which is in front of you (the road to your destination), you miss the beauty that is the journey itself. You might be traveling down one road, but miss the side road that will still get you to where you are going, but maybe it has a better view, or maybe it's even a shortcut.

    Take in the beauty that is all around you - that which is your past (be thankful for it and learn from it), the road in front of you (know that you are on your way to your vision), and the beauty that surrounds you at any given moment (the people, the experiences, the unique gifts that only this moment in time can bring).

  2. Hi Julie,

    Great point - the journey is equally as important (many times even more so) as the destination. :-)

    Thank you for your wonderful comment, Julie!

    Take care,


  3. I was reminded of another analogy as I listened to someone talk incessantly about themselves.

    If our mirrors are not adjusted correctly, all we see is ourselves and we forget that we are part of a greater community. :-)

    Take care,


  4. I realized this at around 30 - that I had been a very backwards focused person for a bunch of years... not all my life. But I had lost all sense of possibility and journey... Things I had been so full of...It was my frame of mind that was the problem. Things got much much better when I turned my main focus... to the now.

  5. Hey Liz,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I wonder if anyone has researched this and come to conclusions about how many people eased from backward-looking lifestyle to a different one by choice versus those who were forced to by a significant or sudden event.

    Take care, Liz!