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Past-Gazer Versus Future-Gazer

shutterstock_127696883The other night I was watching something…..I think it might have been “Longmire” but don’t quote me on that.

Speaking of which, while watching, I paused the show to write down this great quote:

There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it….only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.

Since then, I have read it every few days (on account of having written it down right on my in-phone grocery list).

Each time I re-read it, the quote makes me pause yet again.

You see, I’ve never been a “past gazer.”

I’ve just never wanted to go back – not a day in my life.

If anything, I have spent more time gazing into the future, wondering when it will finally get here.

Perhaps this is because for approximately 20 of my 44 years to date, I struggled with anorexia and bulimia.

Even after that struggle ended, I had another good long decade to follow of fighting tooth and nail with cyclical anxiety and depression.

Maturity, medication, meditation (and feathers – plenty of feathers) helped me break free at last.

When I broke free, I felt like my past had released me into my future – the future I had been longing for ever since I was born. 

But, oddly, I wasn’t happy there either. People around me were making plans for that evening while I was making plans for my retirement.

It was very lonely in the future all by myself.

Now, where I have ended up, after a few more years of reconfiguring, is my present.

I am pretty happy here.

I never even know what today will bring (which means I’m typically way too busy to also worry about tomorrow).

Today, I rarely gaze too far in either direction, despite having been raised and trained nearly from birth to always, ALWAYS: a) learn from my past and b) have long-term plans.

Today, in lieu of too much pondering of the known past or the unknown future, I mostly spend each day aware that I like myself, my life, my profession, my friendships, my family connections, my flock, just as it is.

In this way, I also very much appreciate the quote’s inference that the past must withdraw – whether we let it go willingly or it forces us to release it – in order for the present to fully introduce itself.

There simply isn’t room for both past and present in our minds and our lives, in the same way that the present and the future can’t easily coexist in these two places.

I have known people who are past-gazers – for these folks, everything is about “remember when” and “those were the days.”

I have also known people who are future-gazers – for them, everything is about “when this happens” or “after I do that.”

So I suppose I am a present-gazer – I wake up, identify one or five essentials that are on the day’s action item list – attempt to complete them while being surprised by unknowns along the way, and go to bed each night ready to wake up for one (and only one!) more day the next morning.

Today’s Takeaway: Where does your gaze fall? To the past? The future? The present? All of the above? What has your past taught you that you have chosen to take with you? What (if any) relationship does your present have with your future?

Arches image available from Shutterstock.

Past-Gazer Versus Future-Gazer

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2014). Past-Gazer Versus Future-Gazer. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Sep 2014
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