Originally posted on 3/21/21
Whoever said that living in the past is bad only got it partially correct. True, it can prevent you from dealing with issues in the present or positive planning for the future. But, at my seemingly advanced age I have come to realize that thinking about the past is not exactly the same as clinging to it, and there are benefits in reminiscing.
They say that people relive the past because there are no surprises there. It's predictable. There is a comfort in knowing what transpired and what happened next. If you have an especially brilliant or exceptional success story, an acclaimed achievement, an unlikely victory or a bout of fame, it's fun to relive the moments, especially if you are unlikely to ever achieve them again.
I agree that dwelling on those events can prevent you from enjoying the present. However, I often find myself reliving some of my past achievements and have totally allowed myself to re-experience joy from them.
I once bowled an 808 three-game series in league, an accomplishment that few bowlers attain. There were nuances during the match that only very good bowlers would understand, like needing a 279 in Game 3 for my 800 series. That requires bowling a strike in 11 of the game's 12 frames and, on the one frame that wasn't a strike, an 8-count or lower would have ruined the pursuit. I had thrown a ton of strikes to give myself this once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I didn't need to throw a long string of strikes to do it. I had one opportunity for missing.
Except that I missed the very first frame, leaving a four-pin. I picked up the spare, but now the situation had changed. The 279 effort did not take into account a spare in the first frame -- anywhere else in the game would have worked. Now, I had to throw ten strikes in a row and any legal count in the twelfth and final frame. Finishing with 11 strikes would have given me a 290, but anything besides a strike in frames 2 through 11 would mean I couldn't realize my far-fetched goal. One ball at a time, one strike at a time, and I was able to get all ten of the necessary strikes, with my legs and arms shaking more and more as I approached the end of the game. I threw a seven count on my final ball for a 287, my best game ever, and an 808 total for the three games.
It is rare to throw an 800 series, more so without a 300 game, and I often relive those moments, not because I am avoiding anything in the present but to repeat some wonderful feelings about an extraordinary sports achievement. I could say the same about other things in my life I take pride in, from hitting a grand slam in a childhood pickup baseball game to running the table against a vastly superior opponent in pool, getting three straight 9-ball breaks in another match, each of the standing ovations I have received in karaoke, singing with my brother in a karaoke finals that took place in front a huge crowd in a county fair with well-known rock stars in the judge's panel, and more. Scenes like each of my kids' births, which I attended in person, my meeting Nadyne for the first time, my final day at work upon retirement, and other notable events in my life also invade my day at random.
But here's the thing -- reliving those moments helps extend my life's experiences. I feel like I allow them to live on rather than becoming the forgotten past. My memories are vivid, like how the bowling ball or cue stick felt in my hands, my nervousness before and during each, the trajectory of the bowling or billiard balls, the outcomes.
I lived about 17 hours in my 16 waking hours today, since several minutes were added from my reminiscing. Why wouldn't I want to do that?
Author, poet, photographer, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, sportsman,