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When I work out in my garage, I like to put on YouTube.
We have a big screen TV hung up on the wall. I use it to play music, or sometimes but on workout motivational videos to keep me pumped up to push through sets when I’m feeling tired.
Yesterday, I was in a light hearted mood, so I put on Macklemore. A few songs into the playlist, the song “Good Old Days” can on.
It’s a catchy tune.
To me, the song feels like a reflection point. Macklemore is looking back at his life, he’s reflecting on the journey, and he’s secretly wishing he could go back for a few moments.
Don’t we all feel that way?
I often think about those first few years in Florida. I was broke and struggling but I was very happy. I have this feeling of nostalgia and magic around that time in my life. It almost feels like it was a different universe. I felt so different back then. I lived in a perfect combination of bliss and ignorance. I was in this sweet spot of finally getting my life together while also giving myself the permission to enjoy life for the first time.
It was great.
But that song got me thinking. I started wondering why it is that we all look back at the past in the way we do. Why do we always say “I would give anything to go back.”
Doesn’t that take away from what we are doing right now?
It made me realize that I don’t always fully appreciate the present moment. It also made me realize that when I was actually living in those moments, they didn’t feel quite so special and carefree as they do now when I look back at them.
We always skew the past in a way where we think of it as better than the present moment. But when I close my eyes and put myself back in those days, there were a lot of days that were full of pain and heartache and anxiety, just like there is now.
Yes, I was floating on a pink cloud. But those days weren’t any better than these days.
Which brings me to the present.
Who’s to say that 10 years from now, I won’t be looking back at right now and think of these days as “the good old days?”
This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I have more serenity, more peace, more focus, more of a vision for my future than I ever have had. I have my wife who is my perfect match. Were having a baby. We have the coolest dog. We have our home and great relationships with people we care about and who care about us. We have everything.
So why am I spending time thinking about the past when what I should be doing is living fully in the present?
I read a line yesterday that said “the present in permanently flawed.”
And that’s a good thing. If there were nothing to improve upon in the present moment, there would be nothing to aim for in the future. There would be no reason to try and improve yourself or make your life better. You would be perfectly content with doing nothing, because “this is as good as it gets.”
We can all see how irrational that is. The present must be permanently flawed. But we protect ourselves by painting a picture around the past and convince ourselves that those days were better (in least in some ways) than these days are right now.
But what would happen if instead, we accepted the past for what it is (good and bad) and put all our effort enjoy fully enjoying the present moment?
Do you think the past would lose its magic? Do you think the good old days would disappear?
I don’t. I think what would happen is we would all live more beautiful lives.