“Power comes of looking forward with hope of expecting and demanding the better things to come. That is the law of the Infinite Mind, and when we follow it we live in that mind. Nature buries her dead as quickly as possible and gets them out of sight. It is better, however, to say that Nature changes what it has no further use for into other terms of life. The live tree produces the new leaf with each return of spring. It will have nothing to do with its dead ones. It treasures up no withered rose leaves to bring back sad remembrance. When the tree itself ceases to produce leaf and blossom, it is changed into another form and enters into other forms of vegetation. I do not mean to imply that we should try to banish all past remembrance. Banish only the sad part. Live as much as you please in whatever of your past that has given you healthy enjoyment.” ~Prentiss Mulford
Whether we are developing our spiritual side or not, we all need to look forward. We should remember the lessons of the past, but not get trapped in it. When we get trapped in the past, there is little chance that we will ever move forward. Sometimes it happen when other drag us forward, kicking and screaming. It is far better, though, if we move forward of our own volition.
This problem seems to be most common among older people, but even those in their thirties and forties can be afflicted. You hear guys who are still reasonably young talking about their glory days when they were the captain of the high school basketball team. If you always think of your glory days as in the past, you are voluntarily rushing to your death.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway as I write this. Last night I saw a ski jumping competition. The announcer mentioned that one of the jumpers was forty-five. When that jumper was asked if he planned to retire after this Olympics, he said no. He said he would probably be back for at least two more Olympics. His attitude may seem unrealistic, but it is the proper one to have. Never believe that all of your accomplishments are in the past, or they will be.
A Time for Spiritual Growth
For those who did rely on the physical strength of youth to accomplish things, there is still a way to keep looking forward. They can turn to the development of their spiritual side. They can become Olympic champions of the spiritual. And with spiritual growth, you can always look forward. Spiritual growth doesn’t stop when you get old. It doesn’t stop when you get sick or infirm. Even death of the physical body doesn’t stop spiritual growth. The spirit of those who have passed out of the physical realm can look forward to continued growth on the higher levels of spirit. That can only happen if they started on that path while still on the physical plane.
New Leaves, New Growth
As Mr. Mulford notes, the tree does not revive the leaves it lost last fall. It grows completely new ones in the spring. This applies to us in two ways.
There is a saying in business that one year of experience repeated ten times is not the same as ten years of experience. What it means is that if we are not learning new things and trying new things, we are not growing. If we don’t change and practice new things, we are just getting one year of experience many times over. Like that tree, we need to push the old aside when it no longer serves us, and start with something new.
The other thing to learn from the tree is that is doesn’t give up just because circumstances caused it to lose it’s leaves in the fall. It just waits until it is spring, then grows new ones. The tree understand (in a sense) cycles. Too many of us don’t understand cycles and give up when hit by a downswing. We must all learn that with nearly everything there are ups and downs. We need to be able to handle both.
This applies to spiritual growth as well as anything else. Perhaps the most important cycle we have to deal with is the fifty-two day solar cycle. There are also annual cycles, as well as three-year and four-year cycles. Even if you don’t know what the cycles are, or where the curve currently is, you can learn to accept that all cycles have ups and downs. That means that all of our endeavors will have ups and downs. We have to learn to deal with that and not give up just because a downside of the cycle has hit us. We have to hold tight and keep looking forward to the next upswing.