Not Going Back to Yesterday

Navigational Art By Colleen Yorke, © 2015.

As a court mediator, I occasionally am given arguments following a reasoning that is analogous to a drunkard looking for his keys beneath an illuminated lamppost, where he can see - despite the fact that he lost the keys back in the parking lot. Behind this seemingly intoxicated thought process however are other reasons. 

For many of us, in order to move forward, we must know what is waiting for us there. Control of the situation is what establishes a measurement we use to manipulate the result of our actions. The fear of the unknown and seemingly lack of control is what causes us to resist exploring and entering new grounds. We work hard to find wise ways to reduce risk, but there is magic in a bold approach to life. And being bold does not mean being foolhardy. To be bold can be a sincere braveness to discover the possibilities in life. Whether we lead hundreds or an army of one, we cannot take that first step until we learn how to stop our fear of the unknown. 

Today I am mediating between two sisters: A woman without a past. A woman desperately trying to hold on to hers. A resistance to novelty. And a shabby little house that can not contain the tangle of feelings buried inside. Although we all try to be upbeat and gloss over the anger and hurt of a shared past, if only for a day – we keep stumbling. Every conversation feels stilted, every memory holds a potential land mine, the distance between two people seems to have grown exponentially, leaving a gap that feels impossible to traverse. To rummage through the shards of a broken relationship to find pieces of convergence, to wander among a multitude, to understand, and to build bridges are among the goals of mediation.

Opening ourselves up to a new idea or a new way of thinking can be frightening, because it is by definition unfamiliar. Anger, hurt, and broken trust are elements that can retain us from moving forward (or sometimes taking a necessary step back). At one point or other we all reflect on choices we made and those we didn’t make. The things we should have done. Chances we missed. What we call the shoulda, woulda and coulda of life. That what-might-have-beens. 

Maybe that is why some of us love running so much. We struggle and battle with hills and uneven sidewalks. We enter trails in dark woods, not knowing where they lead. We push our pace to a new personal record, and we keep up with some very breezy runners. While we continue searching for the keys of our lives, running gives us some sense of control and clarity. We venture into unknown territory, we get lost, and we return feeling all the richer for it. 

“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”