The tide was low enough to stretch the beach twice as deep as it had been six hours earlier. The soft breeze fluttered my writing tablet to the point that I used paper clips to hold the pages in place. In spite of the winter weather, I sat facing the ocean with a heavy coat, knit hat, and pen poised in gloved hands to discern the wisdom of the moment. Oceans, beaches, and the sounds of the waves always inspire me. It didn’t take long.

Realizing my task would be easier if I faced in a slightly different direction, I turned the folding chair slightly to the left so that the wind was blowing toward my face instead of from my side. It wasn’t until then I noticed the flock of seagulls waddling to and fro among the waves playing themselves out on the beach.

For lack of anything else to write, I began to take notes about the seagulls. They faced the wind, just like me. They flew, sailed, and landed yet again. With self-assured agility, they pecked at the sand and chased minnows in the shallows. However, it wasn’t until I wrote this next observation that I laughed out loud. Seagulls never walk backward. Frankly, I don’t think they even could.

Years ago I was at a seminar about our own body’s energy system. I found it fascinating that when a chosen participant from our audience walked backward, his energy system was demonstrated to be much weaker by our teacher. She determined this by muscle testing before and afterward. Not believing what I was seeing due to the oddity of the situation, I volunteered next. Sure enough, after I walked backward, I could not hold my arm up parallel to the ground when gently pressed downward by the teacher. Humans it seems are not supposed to walk backward, just like seagulls.

Yet, we humans do move backward in so many different ways. For example, we fill our thoughts with regrets for things we cannot change. We wish we had made different choices, different decisions. We long for previous moments, for that old high school sweetheart, or any of a number of experiences stashed in our memories. When we excessively ponder previous events such as these, nothing good comes from it; it’s emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining.

Think about this for a moment. Does it really do any good to focus unreasonably on our past? Oh yes, learn the lessons your life has taught you. Claim the wisdom your experiences have taught you. But remember this: You cannot successfully move forward while looking backward. Instead, roll up your sleeves, formulate new intentions, and face the winds of life head-on, just like the seagulls. Life won’t work any other way.

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Backyard Wisdom Paddy Fievet