The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 13, 2011

Looking forward while looking back

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Do you look at life over your shoulder? Think about it.

I cannot think of anything as bad looking back as it was at the time it was happening. The pain and discomfort of surgery or delivery seem unbearable at the time, but it is soon forgotten or at least diminished. The same can be said about any trauma we experience. It is much worse at the time it is happening than it is later on. Even being embarrassed can be awful at the time, but eventually it becomes humorous.

I talk a lot about my grandparents settling in early Oklahoma. Deeply embedded in my memory are the wonderful stories they told over and over about their experiences of fear, hunger, storms, setbacks and triumphs.

They never complained about their situation, but told the facts just as they were, with a positive viewpoint. Their stories shaped my life. The way they lived day-to-day taught me that no matter how bad things got, things would be better ahead. There was always a silver lining around every cloud.

They had a true pioneer spirit of looking forward instead of backward. Grandma used to tell us to never look back except for inspiration. I never did. There were always better days to look forward to. They had almost unbearable hardships with sickness and injuries and fires and sadness, but they kept such a positive outlook and that is what I remember

I was reared with six siblings during the Great Depression and following World War II with the same positive attitude in all circumstances. My parents believed that hard work would solve most any problem and their faith carried them through every situation. One cannot live in those days with their attitude and not have it rub off on them. I am grateful for the way I was raised with nothing, except the things that really mattered ... which was love and appreciation and hope.

Thanks to the wise teachings of my parents and grandparents we were encouraged to look ahead with lessons learned from the past. The future is never separated from all that has gone before. We bring with us all that we have learned, felt and thought, all our experiences from birth to now, all the love that nourished us at other times and all the yearnings rooted in our spirit. These stay with us forever as we journey into the future and we look forward.

Anytime is a good time to do an assessment of our beliefs and attitudes. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change ourselves and the way we react to circumstances beyond our control. We can fill each day with happiness and cheer and gratitude. Don’t let anything take away our joy. We can look forward rather than backward, except for inspiration. If I fail to look forward I feel that I have let my wonderful grandparents down. I feel that everything they sacrificed was all in vain, that their lives did not teach me one thing positive.

I am concerned when so many people live only for the moment. It is fine to live in the moment if we have an eye on the future. In my opinion, the reason so many people have credit card debts they cannot handle and so many obligations that overwhelm them is because they fail to live with their eyes on the future. There comes a time when bills have to be paid and reckoning day comes. They don’t know how to live with little in order to obtain much in the future.

I remember when I was in grade school and Miss Cunningham, our wonderful teacher, would give tests. She always told us to take out a clean sheet of paper and sharpen our pencils and get relaxed so we could concentrate on our tested subject. That taught a valuable lesson for life, to start fresh and clear our heads and get ready, that something profound was about to happen.

My grandparents must have greeted every new sunrise with awe and gratitude and thankfulness. They had a plan for each day and started fresh. They worked hard until sundown when they rested and reflected on the day, and planned for another day together. They did not know what their future held, but they know who held their future. I am indebted to them for their example and training.

As I am getting old(er) I look back with wonderful memories of trips, vacations, when the granddaughters were young, when I was in college, when I worked every day and other delightful times. Looking back with those sweet memories does not mean that I do not look toward the future.

No matter what happens, we need to plan. We might have to detour to “Plan B” if circumstances change, but for now we look forward to every day and enjoy it as if it were our last. We take better care of ourselves and eat right and exercise and are thankful for each other and the comforts of home.

Like my grandparents and parents before me, we do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds our future.

We look back daily remembering the sweet young Marines we hosted in our home before they were transferred elsewhere. It is a joy to send them “care packages” to let them know we still remember our good times. One of them particularly liked these cookies.

Banana/Oatmeal Cookies

11⁄2 cups flour

1 half teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3⁄4 cup soft butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup mashed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla

11⁄2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1⁄2 cup chopped nuts(optional)

Mix sugar, butter, egg, bananas, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Stir in oats and chips and/or nuts. Chill about 30 minutes. Drop by teaspoons on cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree oven 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.