“Don’t Let Yesterday Use Up Too Much Of Today” is the saying on a plaque that I keep in my bedroom. I bought it to remind me of the importance of the here and now. All too often, I brooded over the past reliving former injustices — both real and imagined. I hoarded my painful memories and unresolved issues much as I stock piled possessions: the plastic wreath from my father’s funeral, my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine, my uncle’s gramophone and my own thoughts and feelings that I kept buried deep within. I tucked them all away where they fueled my very own pity party and helped me to remain stuck in the muck and mire.
No wonder I became so ill. I refused to let anything go. I refused to recognize the joy and beauty in my own life. Instead I chose to dwell on the sorrow that kept me from recognizing the positives and progressing with my life.
At long last I appreciate the bumps in the road, the ups and down that we all experience. Now I am able to look at challenges as opportunities to help me to learn and grow and develop my character. Finally I am able to let go of my past.
When I cleaned out the attic of my childhood home, I garbaged my father’s dusty, faded, plastic funeral wreath. When I sold my own house I also sold my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. And one of my stepsons has my uncle’s gramophone. I hope these and all of the other “treasures” that I held onto for so long bring pleasure to their new owners. No longer do I need them or rely on their physical presence.
When I close my eyes I still see them. I still hear the whir of the treadle and the click, click, click of the needle as my grandmother feeds the patterned broadcloth for a new housedress into her antique sewing machine. There she sits with stickpins between her lips, busy with her sewing, but never too busy to stop and give me a hug.
I see the wooden gramophone with its carved swirls, the doors that opened to reveal the speakers and the crank that I wound to make the turntable spin — the same crank that flew back and bruised my wrist when I wound it too tight. I hear the needle scraping on the grooves in the 78 record as Patty Page sings, “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?” And, just as I did when I was six, I smile and feel the warmth inside.
The memories are still with me but they do not consume me. I am able to forgive myself and others for the pains that I have both felt and caused. The past has lessons to teach. Hopefully I have learned from them and no longer repeat former behaviors that have caused me grief. I prefer to live in the present sharing my treasures, my feelings and who I truly am. I look forward to each new day and the adventure it holds. After all, there are new lessons to learn and new experiences to savor.
My yesterdays will always be with me but they no longer use up so much of my todays.