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By Lew Avera
Over time I have shared views on many topics: local, historical, governmental, etc. However, a recent event has led to a different perspective than I have ever had before. In this sense, one of my personal values has always been, “Don’t look back, look to the future.” This was because life is in the future, and dwelling on the past could be counterproductive to a realistic and successful future. Of course exceptions were permissible to identify and correct mistakes of the past.
Just recently I celebrated a birthday, which has allowed me to divide my life into two equal, somewhat distinct and meaningful segments. The first segment, half of life, was from birth, growing up, education, raising a family of four children, full Marine Corps career and retirement from the Marines. The second, since retirement from the Marines, has been a full second career filled with employment as a corporate executive, numerous volunteer and non-profit positions, community involvement, grandchildren and looking ahead to the next opportunity in life.
What happened, however, with this recent event, is that there are not that many years to look ahead to major life events as described above. There is, of course, much to look forward to, but not in the context of “the long-range future.” As a result of this I have begun to “look back” at my life and its many events. The perspectives I have gained are astonishing to me.
One is a box of letters my father wrote to me in the 1940s when he was away in World War II. I do not remember them and was not even aware I had them until trying to downsize garage storage recently. They praised me as a Cub/Boy Scout and called me a real leader. How could he believe such a thing about me at that age? As so many youngsters do, I just wanted my parents to leave me alone and let me be me with all the other boys and girls. In retrospect, however, I must believe that these messages had a “hidden impact” on me throughout life.
A second box deals with music. I grew up with country/bluegrass. I played the guitar and five-string banjos and knew the words and could sing virtually every country song of the times—at least 40 songs. I never paid much attention to the words; I just knew them and sung them. Now, in listening to CDs of this music, I am “hearing the words” and understanding their meaning. Every song has real heartfelt meaning and stories about such things as love, loneliness, family, relationships, being apart and being a person—feelings we all have today.
In summary, I think we should continue to look forward to and focus on our future. However, since looking back is an inescapable part of life, this message is to be aware of the past and, above all else, understand the meaning of past events and how they relate to our lives today. This includes not only the past events of our own lives, but also those events we encounter through reading, discovery and knowing others.
Past events are an integral part of life today as we live it, are a part of each of us and can have enormous influence on our lives.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He has been a director of the Talega HOA since 2003 and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.