Don’t Look Back

If a person with a time machine showed up on your front lawn and offered you the choice to go anywhere in time, where would you go? Would you go back? Or forward? It would be a hard choice, for sure.

Allons y!

I’d love to see what the future looks like (flying cars, Star Trek transporters, peace and harmony ’round the world?), but there are a lot of historical events I’d love to witness. I’d love to have stood on that wide-open prairie with Laura and Pa Ingalls, sat in the audience when Harry Chapin recorded Greatest Stories Live, shared wine in the Quartier Latin with Stein, Hemingway, Eliot, and Fitzgerald…

What does all this talk about going back have to do with Big Fit Deal? Well, I’ve been thinking about how often we hear people (maybe even ourselves) talk about our bodies in the past. Magazines practically make a living telling new mothers they have to get their pre-baby bodies back. As if your body hasn’t earned the right to have changed by growing a human inside you! We also tend to say things like, “I’ll never have the body I had when I was sixteen.” Honestly, why would you? Think about all the things you’ve done since then. The places you’ve traveled, the people you’ve met, the food you’ve enjoyed. Maybe you’ve climbed mountains, or crossed finish lines. Maybe you’ve broken a bone, or had surgery, or conquered cancer. You have lived so many years since you were sixteen (unless you’re sixteen and reading this, in which case, skip to the end!), it’s impossible for you to look the same.

No, Jack, we don’t!

Advertisers count on us hating the changes that come with age. Flip through a glossy magazine or turn on the TV, and you’re inundated with promises of looking younger. We have to worry about our hair, our faces, our hands, our bodies. There’s an ad on the radio right now for an aesthetics company where a woman talks breathily and joyfully about how she’s earned every wrinkle on her face—and then tells us how she got rid of those wrinkles with some amazing treatment. And then there’s the commercial for the company that comes to haul your junk away, where the customer talks about how the service made her neighbor look twenty years younger. What?! That doesn’t even make sense! And yet the company knows we’re suckers for any promise of youth. Even an absurd junk-related promise.

Your mind and heart have changed and grown since you were young. You’ve learned, loved, and lost. Every moment of your life has helped to create the astonishing person you are today. That’s not going to stop, either. You’re going to keep learning, loving, and, yeah, losing, for the rest of your life. The same is true for your body. You have scars and stretchmarks, you’ve gotten taller (and maybe shorter), you’ve gotten bigger and smaller and probably bigger again. Your body has changed since you were sixteen, because it’s supposed to. It’s a monument to everything you’ve experienced. Don’t wish it away.

Future Dean wants you to know there are good things ahead.

It’s fun to turn around and see where we’ve been, but we have to make sure we aren’t so consumed with what we’ve left behind that we forget to embrace who we are now, and look with eager anticipation to who we’re about to become.

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