We are shaped by our past. No matter how hard you try to move forward, and shove things out of your mind, even pretending that it didn’t happen, the events of our past always affect the person we end up being. I know it’s the classic Nature vs. Nurture argument (we I come down on the nurture side by the way), and as proven by Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd (because if it happens in a movie it has to be TRUE).
At the risk of sounding all “scientology” (which I am NOT), I am a believer that unless you face these these issues head on they will haunt you for the rest of your life. I am not saying that you need to dwell on them to the point you cannot function, but a little revisit every once in awhile never hurt anyone. It provides closure. I will never fully go into things in my childhood, but the fact that I have faced them and have accepted the fact that it was not my fault, and have managed to forgive the person that did it, has helped me move on from it. Even with that, though, it has affected who I am as a person, as a man, even at the ripe old age of 49. It has shaped how I feel toward those closest to me, how I treat them, the type of Father I am, the type of son, brother, friend. For some better … and a lot of worse.
The title of this blog is a saying we have seen every day since we started driving. Every time we look in the mirror while we are in the car the saying is right in front of us. My favorite song writer, Jim Steinman, had a habit of taking every day sayings and twisting them a bit to make a song that may or may not have matched the initial intent of the saying. He is best known as the songwriter for Meat Loaf’s “bat Out Of Hell” albums with songs like “You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth”, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, but it can be seen in songs he wrote for others, like “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”. The title of this entry is another of his song’s, appearing in “Bat Out of Hell II”. Steinman’s message in the song was that, although these things in our past, the rear view mirror, have affected us, the majority of the time when we look back at them they feel closer to us than they actually are. A hard realization, but one I think we need to understand before we can move forward.
The last couple of years I have really begun to learn this lesson. I needed to stop blaming my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. for who I was, and learn to accept the man I am, for better or worse, and be true to the man I am even if it pissed people off (which it has). I think the reason it upset people is because they were not used to it from me … I am not the type, at least in the past, to state clearly how I felt about something, or someone, and the situation. the Moffitt experience helped me realize that you cannot depend on people you believed to be your friends. You have to believe in yourself, in what you are and what you are capable of, and forget the expectations others have in you based on the past you that was not the true self. I needed to stop accepting the fact that cancer caused my weight gain and get off my ass and do something about it. I am still struggling to lose the weight, probably always will struggle with it, but I am done with sitting in front of the TV, stuffing my face with chips, watching the Biggest Loser. The funny thing is that when I decided to stop that behavior it was actually seen as a problem. By my family, my friends, my co-workers. Most have since opened their eyes to the fact that a healthy John, or a healthy Dad, is 100 times better than a dead one. Some have. Not all. But the point is that, for those that refuse to see the issue or the reason, I really could give less than a damn about.
And I guess that’s the GROWTH part …
So when I look into the rearview mirror now, the past is too far back for me to see or acknowledge it. All I see in the rearview mirror now are those that are losing the race.