As this perplexing and often troubling year takes its final breath, we received a few final reminders that everything is temporary. George Michael passed on Christmas Day, followed by the back-to-back deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. Earlier in the year we lost two of the most influential and prolific icons in modern music history: David Bowie and Prince. The long list of familiar people taken from us in 2016 includes Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, Maurice White from Earth, Wind & Fire, Nancy Reagan, and Garry Shandling. There are so many more, but I must also mention someone who held special significance for me: Beatles producer George Martin.
People come in and out of our lives. Icons go in and out of pop culture. And while on holiday in Australia this week, I sat and watched boats go in and out of Sydney Harbour. Each boat left a wake that rippled out in an ever-widening pattern marking where the craft had travelled. When you see that wake, you don’t know where the boat is going but you know where it’s been.
Gazing out over the harbour, it was the second time in the past few months that I pondered this notion of a boat wake. The first time was when a friend back home took me out on his small boat to watch the sunset. His tired old Yamaha outboard wheezed an occasional puff of black smoke as we motored away from the dock. Ripples from our wake were close by and highly visible just off the boat’s stern. They spread further and further out. By the time we traveled a few hundred yards those ripples were distant memories. There was virtually no trace of them. Almost like we had never been there.
After noticing how the boat’s wake dissipates over time, I turned my attention forward in anticipation of the
beautiful sunset ahead us. One of the things I love most about sunsets is that that they are unpredictable. With an approaching storm or moving clouds, Mother Nature can change things in a matter of minutes. Sometimes for the better, other times for the worse. Yet if today’s sunset disappoints, then we look forward to the next one.
Together, a boat’s wake and the sunset are interesting metaphors for life. Over time, our mistakes, embarrassments, and bad fortune fade further into our personal history just like the wake becomes one with the ocean. That doesn’t necessarily mean we forget about those things, but we can’t allow them to rule our lives. Nothing we can do will change the past. However, we can use the past to our advantage by learning from what happened, becoming wiser, and growing stronger. Turn your back on the negativity of years gone by and focus on what’s in the future. Make today and tomorrow beautiful.
If you had a painful past, you can’t change it. It’s part of you. However, I sincerely hope you will try to forgive
the perpetrator, or yourself if you deal with self-inflicted pain. Then make wise choices going forward. Just don’t keep replaying that same footage over and over in the theater of your mind. Nothing good can come of that.
There’s no telling who will be called home next year or how our lives will unfold. So let’s embrace this gift and enjoy every day. Join me in letting go of negativity and starting with a clean slate.
Together we will make 2017 a year of love, joy, and mutual support.