This week, I’m inspired by another favorite artist, Brandi Carlile. I’ve loved Brandi since she released her very first album back in 2005. Her songs are always honest, raw, rootsy, beautiful and superbly crafted. Lyrically, she gets better and better with every album. She is also one of the best live performers I have ever seen. The last time I saw her perform, she gave away her Gretsch guitar to a 9 year old kid in the audience, but only after making him promise to play it.
Hard Way Home is a song off of Brandi’s most recent album. Every time it comes on my iTunes playlist when I’m driving or cooking, I can’t help but stomp my feet, slap the steering wheel keeping the beat and singing at the top of my lungs. And then I replay it about 3 or 4 times. The song never gets old.
Lyrically, it’s all about learning how to move on, move forward and get better at life, even though sometimes we want to go back and fix our mistakes. She sings:
“Sometimes I wish I could start again/ I try to do the right thing every now and then
I’d step in line/ That’s what I’d do if I could turn back time.”
If I could turn back time… it’s an appealing idea until we realize it’s not.
Firstly, everything we’ve ever done, every choice we’ve ever made–the lesser choices and the great choices, have all made us who we are in this moment. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there’s really no going back. Only forward.
“I wish I’d done things differently” or “I wish things had gone a different way” or “If only I could do that over”– these are all unproductive, unhelpful thoughts. The more energy I spend on wishing things had gone differently, the more time in the present I am wasting when I could be focusing on making better choices for my future.
We all have moments in our history that we often look back on and wish we’d make a better choice or taken a different course of action. But since we don’t have a time traveling phone booth into which we can dial the appropriate numbers to make “history right” we can only learn from those choices and go boldly, courageously, skillfully forward.
I have no interest in living in my past. Or wallowing there and waiting for things to magically get better. I’m interested in recognizing that my past is a part of who I am. The brightness of the future is formed by what we’ve done in the past and how we choose to respond in the present.
Go boldly. Go radiantly. Life is waiting for you to really live it.