As a figure of speech, the title of this article is usually stated as a declaration that someone has been out of touch in some way. “Where have you been for the past 20 years?” has been spouted off the lips of many people as they seek to imply a fault in another person’s awareness of what’s going on around them. Sometimes offered in jest but other times not, the idea of looking back to where you have actually been for the past 20 years can be quite enlightening.
As a new year approaches, there’s something sentimental about reflecting on previous journeys. From the physical standpoint of where we have been, it’s doubtful anything meaningful could come from retelling where your body was residing at any certain time. However, if we perform 20 years worth of soul-searching on where our mind has been in conjunction with what was going on in our lives, something more valuable will be revealed.
Performing such a task may not be for the faint of heart because self-talk is not necessarily easy. To be successful, one must be truthful with his or her own self. There is no room for flowering up any alleged pitfalls in order to offer an explanation of why you were where you were. In short, the truth can hurt even those that lived with the best of intentions in their hearts.
Ask yourself if have you always physically been where you should have been and the answer is likely to be negative. We miss important dates in people’s lives because we simply forget or because we are busy doing something else. We don’t visit others often enough because we can’t seem to find the time. Things come up, disrupting our intentions and our plans but we move forward pledging to ˜get it right” the next time. We justify our errors in order to offset the disappointment in ourselves. But, the next time comes and we often go through the same sequence again. This cycle creates a heavy invisible weight that many of us carry around.
To note, I would be wrong to suggest that physical presence has no connection whatsoever to the statement of where we have been for the past 20 years. In perspective, we can be at some physical location but not really be there at all in our heart and mind. We show up for appearances only. Likewise, we can physically be far removed from others but actually be right by them in heart and mind. We pray, we worry, and we feel sorrow for those we love but cannot be near. Our minds hold the truth to where we really are at any given point and time in our life.
Recently, I was put the task of discovering where I have been for the past 20 years. I have been many, many places and seen many, many things, both literally and figuratively. At times I may have been sitting right next to someone but at the same moment was so awash with anxiety that I was nowhere near being involved in the environment, my mind was racing to other places. At other times I was far away from those I love but within my inner being I was so close to them as I sent silent heartfelt prayers and hope for their wellbeing.
More personally, there were times when I was self-involved in the doings of my life but that didn’t mean I stopped caring about others. I neglected and let duties fall upon what I knew were capable hands. I tried to justify because I was busy raising small children and working on goals but even so, the silent weight of guilt lingered nearby. The guilt was not only for my neglect and how it might make others feel but for me and what I was missing out on that could never be returned---time spent with those you love.
Time moves on and circumstances change. I free up more time when I know without doubt that my presence is highly needed. I stop taking for granted that others will be giving the kind of capable care that I deem appropriate. Both physically and mentally, I take great strides to try and rearrange where I am. Importance of someone else’s matter takes precedence over any issues of mine. As people often do, we also put other’s needs far above our own, usually thinking of our needs last.
If any of my ramblings seem familiar, it’s because these are the types of flaws many of us possess if we are honest with ourselves. At the same time though, we also come to realize that throughout the years, much of our time is spent meeting demands of others. We cater to children, spouses, teachers, coaches, clubs, and so on. Sometimes it may seem that the only thing we do offer to ourselves is the guilt over not meeting our own needs and one of those needs we have may be centered on what we know we have neglected. It’s a difficult path we travel in this life sometimes. What does it all mean?
Turmoil within your inner being is never a good thing but it’s a necessary at times. Understanding turmoil can create change. Commitment to what is most important that fits in with your life circumstances at any given moment will define who you are. It shouldn’t matter if others wonder where you have physically been for the past 20 years as long as you know where your mind was.
If you want to live with no regrets, it’s never too late to take care of those things most important to you. If you can and when you can, be physically and mentally available concurrently. Others will notice and you will too, once you take an honest trip back to discover where you have been for the past 20 years.
Holidays can be sentimental days and so I end with these final thoughts. Whether you are near or far in physical being, offer mental knowledge to those you love that you are there for them. Thank those who shouldered responsibilities in your absence. Find peace in knowing that your imperfections are not a large as you and others may believe they are.
I wish peace and happiness for my family and for my readers this holiday season. Don’t fret over where you have been for the past 20 years; just know where you are today.