My husband has digitised huge numbers of our family photos and they scroll past on our TV, a never-ending stream of images of parents, grandparents, our son as a child, our idiotic youthful activities, old cars, old houses, and holiday snaps.
He loves to look at them. I hate them. They make me cry. That child, that we loved so much, is now an adult, so, in a way, that child no longer exists. I love spending time with my adult son, but I can’t snuggle that child ever again, or read him stories, or hear about his school day, or remedy any mistakes I made in helping him to grow.
I’ll never be that skinny again, or have so many years of my future ahead of me, or have so many opportunities still to take advantage of.
Do I regret decisions and choices I made? Sure. Can I do anything about it now? Of course not. Anything I was going to learn from those mistakes, I already have done. So why would I want to be reminded of it all?
What I do want to think about is now, and the future. How to make the future better for all of us. Navel-gazing the past is pointless, apart from the fun of laughing at the fashions of yesteryear. Those photos, the memories they represent, are an assault on my wellbeing, not a joyous celebration of achievement. I’m not in any danger of looking back with smug self-satisfaction; instead, all I have is a determination to do better. And it will all be so much easier without dragging the past along with me.