Have you been struck, as I have, by the frequency with which this phrase, “We have to move on” seems to be heard or seen in print these days? Since it is front and center, perhaps we need to consider it for a moment.
Was Adam the first to utter it as he and Eve stepped out of Eden into the ordinary world? Or was it Noah as he helped his wife down the gangplank of the Ark into the fresh mud of their new world? It doesn’t really matter, except to remind us that there is nothing new in it. However, we have to pause a bit before we put it into action.
While the past is just that, we have to make sure that we have taken its lessons to heart before we step out afresh. Before we move, we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we need to consider in the aftermath of that debacle (since it is always said after a loss or disaster of some kind). So that our actions do not become repetitive, we need to be sure that we don’t go on repeating the bad judgments.
If we are trying to begin anew after a natural disaster or a human loss, we rarely have responsibility there. But we cannot simply turn our backs on the past. It has gone into the present. So, we carry our grief or sense of loss.
I recently watched the survivors of a small Midwestern town look at the wreckage of their homes and all that they had cherished until that moment of wild wind. Yes, one of them said, “We have to move on”, adding, “We have no choice.” It was bravely said, but the TV camera caught her look as she realized that not a teacup had survived of her former life. Her movement is bound to be painful and that has to be honored.
While moving forward is our only direction, let us be aware of the baggage we have to carry. Some of it we will lose as we travel; some of it remains to guide our steps. Recognize them both and you will travel more wisely.