Looking behind you to see what’s ahead

What if I told you that your past is littered with clues about your future? What if I told you that you just might find your way forward by looking back over your shoulder?

Here’s what I mean. Here’s an example from my life. When I was, I don’t know–four? five?–I learned how to print both my first and last name. This was an ENORMOUS deal to me for one reason: I could now get my very own library card.

The experience is not HD sharp in my mind, but I do have a fuzzy memory of pushing my signed “application” back across the librarian’s desk. She examined it, smiled, and said something like, “This looks just fine, Len. Why don’t you go pick out some books while I make up your new card.”

library2

Copyrighted Flickr Creative Commons photo by Ruth Hartnup http://bit.ly/1q9696S

My own library card?! She might as well have told me, “You just won the lottery!” Come to think of it, maybe that’s precisely what happened.

For years, every single week, almost without fail, my mom took my sisters and me to the Slidell library. She never rushed us. And she didn’t hover over us. We were free. Free to roam through the stacks and peruse hundreds of shelves. I remember running my fingers across the spines of thousands of books, each one the doorway to a whole new world.

I couldn’t have articulated it this way at the tender age of five, but I know now these weekly visits were holy experiences. Instead of incense, the smell of books. The whole place quiet like a cathedral. If you talked at all, you had to whisper. But, of course, isn’t that what one instinctively does when one is in awe?

After an hour or so–I don’t know how long we actually stayed, because time seemed to stand still in that place–Mom would find us and tell us to gather up our selections. I would eagerly lug my armload of books to the front desk, set them on the counter, and proudly produce my very own library card. My personal passport to history and adventure and amazing stories from exotic places.

Given this piece of my past, is it any surprise that I love words and books and great stories? Or that I enjoy trying to write words that will make people think more clearly, feel more deeply, and act more nobly?

What about you? What incidents or experiences from your past might be clues to your deep passions and unique calling?

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