In my novel, Michael is a character who firmly believes in leaving the past behind. So much, he’s christened his boat Never Look Back. He’d tell you it’s pointless. You can’t change any of it. And we have the nasty habit of wearing those rose-colored glasses that make all the other outcomes seem wonderful, had we made any of the other choices. Learn the lesson and move on, he’d say. If there is no lesson, if fate has conspired against you, move on faster. And fuck her.
I should have guessed by her name, though. She’d been christened Never Look Back. Closed Doors
It’s a rush to write characters like that, who uncompromisingly go forward, no regrets, no what-ifs, no beating yourself up. Oh, to be of this ilk.
Several years ago, in preparation for a job promotion, a mock review board was set up to help us practice. I pulled a fail of epic proportions. The kind it takes more effort to accomplish than succeeding. I missed cues, overlooked urgent matters, got priorities wrong. If it had been real-life someone would have died. Of course this was in front of everyone else so ‘we could all learn from watching each other’. I remember sitting in my car after trying to regroup, fighting that dreadful mix of shame and humiliation (no, they’re not the same, which is cool because you get to experience both…).
The memory didn’t go away overnight. It would come back unexpectedly, mixing up a cocktail of those awful feelings that poured into my heart like black ink. But I’ve become more resilient over the years. I move on faster, integrating learn it, know it, live it.
You can, literally, stop thinking about a mistake you’ve made. You can replace that memory with another thought. It can be a mantra, a prayer, an affirmation or naming all fifty-two states. This ability can be strengthened like a muscle. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing characters who inspire me and keep looking ahead.