Letters To Tom — The Past

Dear Tom,

Its been way too long since I wrote. If you’re like me, I get several e-mails a week full of nostalgia for the past. They contain pictures of Elvis, Howdy Doody, and six-cent cokes. They evoke wonderful memories of our childhood and our past. They of course leave out the iron lung machines and wars of the 40’s, 50’s,60’s, and 70’s. The problem with always looking toward the past, is we know where we’re going. We no longer dream about the unknown and the unexplored. We recall the excitement of the first time we watched TV, the first time we tried the hula hoop, or snuck in a drive in theatre. A great deal of the nostalgia we feel is for the excitement we felt when we first experienced something in our past, but the only way to recreate that excitement is to explore once again. Remember where you were and how you felt when we first landed on the moon. You cannot recreate that sensation by looking at films, but you can by sending men and women to Mars. I can’t remember how my parents felt when a vaccine for polio was discovered, but I loved to experience the feeling of knowing there is now a cancer vaccine. I don’t suggest we stop reminiscing about the “good old days.” All I suggest is we spend a large amount of our time and effort dreaming and creating nostalgia for the next generations. We are always called to evolve with imagination and exploration. If we turn to the past, we turn our backs to the future.

I believe part of each individual’s calling is to ask questions of the society in which he/she lives and continuously stress the necessity of progress, not only of the individual, but also the world…. As long as we live, we must keeps searching for a new order without divisions between people, for a new structure, that allows every person to shake hands with every other person, and a new life in which there will be unity and peace. We look forward not backward because there will never be a moment in this life in which one can rest in the supposition that there is nothing left to do. We will not despair when we can’t not see the result. For in the midst of our work, we keep hearing the word of God. “I am making all things new.” ( Rev. 21:5).

Sorry dear friend a little bit of frustration with those who would return us all to the past crept into my letter. I need to go back to my meditation.

Your Friend, Webb

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.

1 Comment +

  1. Webb,
    I am afraid that I allowed a little of my past into my daily life over the past month or more… that part of my past that tells me that I’m overwhelmed, too busy, without time (!) While I have been away for several weeks, the truth is that I have plenty of time to complete that which God wants me to complete. And catching up with your wonderful postings is one of those things!

    As to the past, I really appreciated this installment! I have a friend I went to grade school, high school, and the first couple years of college with, and if he could get in a time machine to take him back to the ’50s, he’d go in a minute. I get frustrated too, but I do understand that for some, the past is a powerful calling.

    In addition to your fine points about the past, I would add that spending time in the past inhibits one’s growth in the present. Our past experiences have programmed our automatic responses to occurrences in our present life… our tendency to get angry at a loved one over small things, or our impatience on the freeway. We build resonance for those and other behaviors and they are challenging to change, particularly if we live in our past.

    Eckhart Tolle in “The Power of Now” says, “The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously to cover up the present moment with past and future, … [obscuring] your true nature.” One of our Sufi teachers advises that when we feel ourself slipping into that all-too-familiar place of negative resonance, to move instead into the ‘eternal moment of the present’ … free of thought, emotion, feeling for a few seconds, creating new possibility in how you respond in the present. Interesting stuff, Webb, and I’m thankful for your exploration of this issue.

    Your Friend

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