Super Mario Bros. on the NES has a one way screen scroll, forcing the player to always move forward, never backward. At the same time, you have a timer ticking down, threatening to end Mario’s life. Or Luigi’s life – let’s show the oft-forgotten brother some love (that’s a lesson in itself).
As a player controlling Mario, when you move forward, the screen scrolls and locks on where you are. There’s no going back. If you want to save the princess, you have to continue forward. If you stay still and don’t take action, the timer keeps ticking down until, eventually, Mario dies. The timer is indifferent – it’s there as a reminder that you have a limited amount of time. Nothing more, nothing less. If you choose to not take action, move forward, and overcome the obstacles before you, then Mario dies.
Life is kind of like that. We’re here on the Earth for a limited amount of time, with an invisible timer ticking down our seconds. While the timer is ticking down, our lives are moving forward. There’s a caveat to that though.
In every moment of life, we have a choice. We can choose to either stay where we are or move forward. We can choose to let our circumstances paralyze us with fear or we can choose to overcome our circumstances and push through them. We can choose to be inactive before the obstacles ahead of us or take action and rise above those obstacles. In any and all of these situations and choices, the timer doesn’t care.
All the while, as the timer on our lives is ticking down, the timeline is moving forward. Who you were ten years ago isn’t who you are today. The relationships you had five years ago aren’t the same as they are today, even if they’re with the same people. The past is done and over and you can’t go back there. It’s one thing to learn from the past, but it’s an entirely different thing, and potentially dangerous, to dwell on it. Dwelling on the past will stop you from moving forward.
It’s good to learn from the past, but don’t live there. Living in the past breeds regret. Living in the present and choosing to move forward gives rise to hope and possibilities. Don’t allow the timer to tick down without moving toward your goals. Face your fears and obstacles, take action, and move forward.