The earliest known rear-view mirror mounted on a motor vehicle appeared in a racecar at the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. It was then introduced by car manufacturers in 1914. But back in 1906, Dorothy Levitt wrote in her book, The Woman and the Car that women should “carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving” so they could “hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic.”
When I was taking Driver’s Ed in high school, my instructor Willard Kennel, taught me a lot about the importance of using my rearview mirror. Willard taught me that road traffic situations were always in a dynamic change process. If I only observed and collected traffic information in front of me and missed the sides and the rear, I was actually overlooking 75% of my driving environment. Mr. Kennel suggested I learn to just glance in the rear-view mirror a small percentage of the time at regular intervals so I could maximize awareness of my surroundings. That advice tidbit, has helped me to be nearly accident-free in almost 45 years of driving.
I happen to believe glancing in the rear-view mirror of life helps us to improve our living. Looking in the review-mirror of life too much leads to phrases like “we always used to…,” or “back in the good old days…” Staring in the rear-view mirror too much makes us more likely to collide with the present and the future. Like in driving, we need to find just that right ratio so we safely navigate life.
The value of looking in the rear-view mirror of life includes:
Learning from our past mistakes
Learning from the mistakes of others
Celebrating where we’ve come from
Seeing our past regrets so we can shape the future to be lived with reward
Discovering our sweet spot by reviewing where we experienced the greatest satisfaction and fruitfulness
Hindsight is a useless tool unless we learn and grow from it. Jody Picoult received good counsel, “My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse.” Admittedly, changing even the negative things in our past would fundamentally change who we are. God loves to grow lush fruit out of the compost of our lives.
Keep looking forward. Yes, glance backward and sideways for just a moment to make sure you are getting a 360 degree view of life and not missing the beautiful scenery along the journey. But don’t forget to keep your focus on the road ahead!
QUESTION: What additional values have you discovered in looking back at your life? Share your comment below.