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why looking back is good


why looking back is good

Emily Kelley

Look back. Look back on past work, past relationships, past moments, past jobs, past late nights with one or two or three glasses of wine, past struggles, past victories, past anything...and see why it is a good thing that it happened. That all of it happened. Even the stuff you would rather not remember.

I feel like there is a cliché notion that by looking back you can see how "far" you've come and all the "obstacles" you've overcome...which is true in a way, but it sounds sort of negative right? And why do some people say we shouldn't look back? Is it dangerous for us to look back to our past for some reason?

If I never looked back and just kept moving blindly through life, I probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this post...
Actually, I know I wouldn't.

Our past is always there for us like a trail marker, just in case we get lost and need to retrace our steps... 

When I graduated from college, I immediately started working. I was so happy and felt so lucky. (Which I definitely was.) Most importantly, I thought I knew exactly where I was going. Then suddenly, I felt kinda lost like I wasn't sure where I was going at all. Up until that point I just followed the obvious steps of what I knew I was going to do...graduate high school, go to art school, study graphic design, graduate art school, get a great design job, and then...? I realized where I was wasn't where I truly wanted to be. I needed to go back to the trail marker and figure out why I was doodling patterns in my sketchbooks, and making weird plant illustrations. Then, I took some quick travels across the country (Oregon, specifically) and that really sealed the deal for me. I knew I wanted to make more work influenced by nature and the outdoors. There was so much more to life experiences than I ever thought possible, and I was missing out by not translating that feeling into my work. I went back to the trail marker and started off on another path (or maybe it was the path I was meant to be on all along)...

Did I ever think I would eventually try to start my own business at 24? No, not really. But it also doesn't surprise me either. Right before I start an illustration, or carve a lino block, I always look back at my past experiences, and I always feel inspired.

And I realize I totally am where I should be.

(Besides, if I never looked back, I wouldn't have found the sketchbook page where I scribbled the name "Land & She" in the margins...)

If you need to go back to the trail marker...just to retrace your steps, or to remind yourself where you've been, where you come from, and where you're going...then do it. It's a GOOD thing. And who knows...it might lead you on a new path. Or even better, back to the path you were already meant to be on...