It is always advised to learn from the past. The past mistakes from us and from others teach us to be better people in the long run. But it is important to remember that while we look to the past for guidance, we must not dwell on those past experiences. As Francis Bacon wrote, “That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do, with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labor in past matters.” Everyone has mistakes they’ve made in the past that they wish to correct. Despite this, there is almost nothing at all we can do to alter that past. Just as we can not change history, our own personal backgrounds are set in stone. The key is to take that and build off of it.
It is cowardly to only look behind you as you move forward. Fear of what is to come ties you to what has already happened. There is always hesitation moving forward, but that doesn’t mean we can dwell on what is past. It takes courage to venture into the unknown; the path is not necessarily unknown, however. Wise men take the past and use it as a lamp for the future. Just as Patrick Henry said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” When we study history, we know what steps we must take and which steps we must avoid. It is important to remember from whence we came. Every action done, every decision made has lead us to this exact moment. Even the poor choices and the missteps mean something. And more importantly they show us the way to a better future. Those who came before us died so we may live without their mistakes. It is disrespectful to ignore their struggles and simply learn it in our own. Move on from the past, but keep it in your mind. It will help you keep moving forward for years to come.