Do we live life forwards, but examine it backwards? This is something the philosopher Kikergard pointed out long ago.
Do you agree? If you do, isn’t this odd? It seems we’re likely to make many mistakes in basing our future, which is forward thinking, entirely on the past, which is looking backwards.
Steve Jobs put it this way, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” It seems so obvious that most of us don’t really think about it. but Jobs and Kikergard and the guy who said “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it” are so right. Time is a funny thing. It’s like walking backwards on a beach. You can’t really see forward, so you have to adjust your direction based on where you’ve been, and trust that the wisdom of hindsight will get you where you want to go.
I used to hate this kind of thinking when I was younger. I remember hearing that quote for the first time and just really reacting in a rebellious way towards it. I thought things like “how on earth could anything new happen? How could things change and improve if we just looked to the past for advice?” But what I understand about that now is that the reason looking to my history for advice about future seemed stupid was because I didn’t have much history! It seems so confining when all you have to look back on is about a decade and a half of decision making. It takes a while of history making to begin to take advantage of this awesome life principle. The only way a young person could really leverage this would be by leaning on the history of decision-making of others. Sadly, I don’t know very many teenagers or tweens even who have the wisdom to do that. If there was one thing I could wish for someone is that before they get too old, they learn to stand on the shoulders of giants! They learn to steal the history of their fathers and learn from it. I can’t even imagine what kind of impact a person who did that could has on the world. I hope I get the chance to see it!