Looking Back Can Be a Good Thing

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There was a detail about rock climbing that I purposely omitted.

What detail you ask?

Well…. I stopped climbing a few feet short of the summit.

If I listen closely, I can hear you thinking “Whitney, you were so close. It was within your grasp. Why didn't you go for it?”

At least I think I hear you thinking this, because I have a tendency to think it.

But on that day of rock climbing, I opted (with encouragement from my belayer/mentor Laurel) to look down rather than up.

Back, not forward; to be proud of what I had accomplished, rather than what I hadn't.

Just days before, I'd had another opportunity to look back.

We were in the Hamptons visiting one of my oldest and dearest friends, Liz, her husband David, and their children.

They first invited us out when their Alexander, and our David, had just turned two; their second child, Nicholas, was a newborn.

I have two vivid memories of that visit.

One was of Liz and I sitting in the living room talking while she rocked Nicholas to sleep. The other is of me speaking to clients on the way there, while there, and checking my e-mail constantly. Did I mention we were there for only 24 hours?

As you can see from the photo below, Nicholas is now 9, David and Alexander are 11, Eleni and Miranda are seven.

Wah_johnson_kids

The children growing up was inevitable.

But what of my growth?

Ten years ago, I was busy, so very busy, climbing, climbing, to where I was going.

This summer I was also busy, busy enjoying, relishing, savoring who we were with, where we were.

Email and phone messages? Not a one in three days.

The Hamptons may be near the seashore, and nowhere near the mountains, but as I looked back at who I was, comparing it with who I'm becoming, it seemed I'd reached a summit.

Said Nelson Mandela, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

When was the last time that you looked back, not ahead? Down, not up?

What was the context? Who were you with? Where were you?

Was this glimpse of yourself a gift — a well-deserved one along your hero's journey?

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