Around the Bend

It would be nice if we could turn back the hands of time now and then, just for a little while.  I’d love the chance to sit at the table in my grandmother’s kitchen again, enjoying a meal she made especially for us, or gallop across a field just one more time on my beloved horse, Prince.  And I’d give just about anything for even a few more moments with any of the people I’ve loved and lost, with the chance to hear their voices and give them even one more hug.  By the time you’ve reached my age, the chances are you’ve got a ton of happy memories that you’d happily relive if you were only given the chance.

But life is not just a journey.  It’s a journey on a one-way street, often in a speeding car, without a u-turn ramp in sight.  The past is just a memory, the present is our reality, and our future is whatever lies just around the next bend.  And that can be a scary thing, because unlike the past or the present, the future is mostly unknown.

IMG_2553I don’t know about you, but there’s a whole lot going on in my life right now that I never saw coming.  Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but most of it was totally unexpected.  I still remember how I used to look at our calendar early last year and worry about how we were possibly going to keep up with such a busy schedule of travel and events.  Who knew the answer would be a virus that would force us to cancel them all?  And I remember the cold stab of fear I felt when I heard that my daughter-in-law was being prepped for an emergency delivery six weeks before her due date.  I had no way of knowing that the result would be a beautiful and perfectly healthy granddaughter who spent only two weeks in the hospital.

I’ve always been the sort of person who likes to plan ahead, so I’ll admit that sometimes I find the uncertainty of the future to be a little bit scary.  But I’ve learned through the years that the unknown is simply a part of life, and my only real choice is to accept that.  More importantly, I’ve learned that the unknown isn’t always a bad thing, and that some of the surprises the future has in store for us will most certainly be good.  I’m also realizing that worrying about what might happen is a waste of time and energy, because when bad things do happen, they are usually completely different from whatever I had anticipated.

So I’m thinking that maybe it’s time that I stop looking so much to the past when I’m less than thrilled with the present, and start looking a little more to the future and the changes that it will most certainly bring.  Sometimes all you can do in this life is buckle up and enjoy the ride, looking firmly forward as you wait to see just what’s around the next bend in the road ahead…..

83 thoughts on “Around the Bend

  1. The future is where we all need to focus right now Ann. Life will never go back the way it was, but it can progress, and be meaningful, if we just accept that we will have a new “normal” way of doing things. We will still travel, but now that travel may be to see those we love, rather than exotic places. And on the highway of life, lets all pull into the slow moving vehicle lane and take the time to look around. There may only be one off ramp, but on the way there, there can be some stunning scenery. Stay well. Allan

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    • Yes, the future will still hold many good things for us, I believe, even if we don’t know quite what they are! I admit that I hope international travel does make a come back, and I think with time it will. But the trick, as you say, is to simply enjoy the scenery as we travel along, where ever that might lead us!

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  2. I can so relate. I have so many happy moments that I relive in the memory and it makes me smile. Thinking too further ahead and the uncertainty usually worries me so I try to focus in the present. Your granddaughter is adorable 🙂

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    • I have also struggled with uncertainty, but am working on it. But I think your idea of focusing mostly on the present is a wise one, as that is all we really know for sure. And thanks for the comment on my granddaughter! We enjoy her so!

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  3. to give you just a snapshot of the future in store … covid is fairly well under control here and restrictions have lifted! No overseas travel but at home it’s open slather.

    What I’m seeing and hearing is that people aren’t so interested in the menial, many are looking for a deeper connection. They’ve had an insight that life is limited and may not take the direction they prefer but they are looking for more. Less willing to settle for mere entertainment but wanting to use what days they have in a more meaningful manner … make sense?

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  4. Wonderfully said Ann. I only mentioned to my hubby recently that I’d love to turn back the clock and talk to my 55yo mum, woman to woman. But in reality all we have are our memories and the moment. The future is unknown but it’s also what we make of it and that comprises of conscious choices we make every day. Here’s to living each day mindfully and enjoying what we have, including your gorgeous grand daughter! xx 💗

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    • I know, sometimes the longing to speak to those we’ve lost, just one more time, is very strong. Thank goodness for our memories! And I agree that the future is what we make of it, as although we can’t control what happens to us, we most certainly can control how we react to it. We need to choose to be happy as often as possible, I think, and draw on our strength for those times when happiness isn’t an option. Thank you so much for your insightful comment!

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  5. The past is the past. It certainly helps to have sweet memories. They may even give us a boost when things do not turn out very well in the present. However, we need to find a balance between too much planning and too much living in the moment. I am by nature an over-planner like you Ann whereas my wife lives almost totally in the present. So in a sense, we complement each other. But it also creates at times unpleasant friction between us. These are my thoughst on this well-written post this evening.

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    • Thank you, Peter! I think those of us who over plan do need to recognize that “the best laid plans often go astray” or whatever that saying is, but nevertheless, some planning ahead is still a good thing. I think of it as simply being prepared as much as possible. Living in the moment is also a good thing, because if we plan ahead too much we miss the joy that is right in front of us. I’m glad you and Biene look at it differently, even if it does cause a little friction, because my guess is that between the two of you, you get it right!

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      • That’s natural Ann, well be glad of her and her stories of ages-old. She still has a mind and whatever quality should be valued. My mother died peacefully unexpectedly at age 61, my dad made it to 69 with last years in Australia. Enjoy your day as much as possible, and me at 66 have got now in leisure so much want to do, and hope make it past my dad’s age. Best wishes!

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  6. The unknown is a scary place and the future is very much an unknown. Still looking backward all the time means you run into a lot of doorways and stop signs! I’m glad you are facing the future and loving the present! Your grand daughter is a cutie – and her future looks bright especially with you in it!

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    • I think we all have a little bit of a fear of the unknown, and have to work and remembering that the future has always been just that. We can plan ahead and prepare, but things may or may not work out the way we had anticipated. It’s taken me a long time to realize that is not necessarily a bad thing, and that looking ahead with interest is a much better attitude for me to have than trying to climb back into fond memories. And thanks for your kind words about my granddaughter!

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  7. Memories have a way of gnawing and kneading our hearts, making us yearn for the times, people and places of the past. The metaphor of life being a car speeding down a one-way track is unsettling. It is only when we stop looking at future as a counterbalance to the past that life becomes weary. Some times, or shall I say many times, it becomes difficult to avoid the pull of the past times as we grow older, more so when the future seems fruitless. Let us not then forget the sweetest moments and people of our lives, but let us not the yearning muddle our future.

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    • Exactly! We need to hold our treasured memories in our hearts, and draw strength from them. But that doesn’t mean we need to be overly cautious about our future, because there are always more good memories to be made from the present. I think the key, like so many things in life, is striking a balance between the two. Sadly, I’m sometimes a rather clumsy person, physically and mentally!

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  8. That’s just how I’ve been feeling, wanting to go back as in hindsight I don’t think we always appreciated what we had. I do enjoy memories especially my grandparents homes. The one thing I think Covid has done is slowed me down and appreciate good things, though I don’t know how I will manage to fit everything in again!

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    • That’s a good point…I think part of the reason for “wanting to go back” is that we would appreciate it all so much more now. But our memories have to be enough. And yeah, Covid has forced us to live life more slowly, and it’s going to seem very odd to go back to packed calendars again. Perhaps we won’t? I have a feeling I might be a little more choosy about how I schedule my time from now on!

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  9. A post brimming with wisdom, Ann and I think many can identify with the emotions! It is strange how we all planned last year early one, never for a minute realising how much our lives would change! It has indeed been a sharp lesson in learning to live in the present and now tentatively beginning to look forward to possible flights abroad. Personally my family and I long to visit the family and properties in Sweden after two years away … but even if allowed I’m trying to imagine how I would feel stuffed in a plane surrounded by so many others in close proximity. Hmm …

    Now, I hope you can see your wonderful granddaughter and so happy all turned out right! She looks adorable and quite a character! Xx

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    • Yes, the pandemic taught us all that life will throw us unexpected curves now and then, and sometimes they’re pretty darned big ones! I haven’t flown commercially since this began, but I know people who have and they say it really isn’t so bad. Everyone wears masks and it’s supposed to be fairly safe, due to air filtration or something. Anyway, I hope you and your family do make the trip to Sweden in the near future. Are the vaccines rolling out well in your area? I think those will give us the confidence we need to “get back out there” when the time is right!

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      • Exactly and the UK is doing very well with the vaccines, nearly 25 million with their first dose (one in three adults) and I had mine on Friday. It seems to have made a huge difference … care homes deaths down by 80%. Yes, just a matter of gaining confidence to head out again. Your friends’ experiences does give me some reassaurance, thank you. Take care xx

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  10. Ann, a lot of your past makes the present and the future much better. Reading your posts, I’ve never gotten the feeling that you were too tightly bound to your past – whatever is there is normal and healthy. Your reminiscences are born of an understandable longing for what is no more, old beauty that is perhaps not as easily found now.
    What I find so beautiful about you is how you’ve made parts of the past live on. Just as you long to sit down to a meal cooked by your late grandmother, your own children and grandchildren will seek of you because of the deep love you shared with them. I don’t know if ponies and pastures will feature in their lives, but I bet appreciation of nature and generosity of heart will define them strongly – because you live on in them.

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    • Thank you so much for that, Caitlynne! I think the past does shape us, and we get to choose how. (I love Amy Tan’s book, “The Opposite of Fate” because she talks about how we can pick and choose which memories we carry with us. I loved my grandparents and loved spending time at their house, and you’re right, those memories are a driving force behind me wanting to have my grandchildren at my house and making sure they know this is their “second home.” We do pass on the blessings we’ve been given to future generations, and that’s the best way to honor past, I think. I agree that the best in each of us lives on…

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  11. Your post was very touching, Ann. I started to imagine all the people I would love to be with again – to tell them about how things in the future turned out. My father used to tutor my son who was speech delayed. My father died before he could know that his grandson became a teacher! Or my best friend in college, whom I wrote many songs for. She died of breast cancer 13 years ago. She never knew that I would play and record those songs all these years later!
    I guess the beauty of life and the future is the unknown. Those surprises, good and bad, keep us on our toes. As we move forward from this difficult past year, I like to imagine more surprises. And certainly, I have so much more appreciation for the things I had taken for granted. I am looking forward to hugs!
    Thank you again for your meaningful post, Ann.

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    • Thank you so much, Judy! I think we all have loved ones that we would give anything to be able talk to just one more time, but for now, we have to make due with our memories. Still, the future does hold good surprises for all of us, and we have to trust that we have the strength to deal with the hard stuff too. As for hugs: I am with you….can’t wait to hug some of my extended family and friends again. I got my first vaccine today, so here’s hoping I can step into my mom’s apartment soon, for the first time in over a year!

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      • Congratulations on your first vaccine, Ann! Hopefully your sore arm will go away quickly. It will be so wonderful when you can step into your moms apartment and I will be so happy for you!
        We have so much joy to look forward to. I got my first one last week and I know April is going to be a better month! I’m seeing my brother who is already vaccinated in a couple weeks and I think I will go for a big hug with him! 😊

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  12. I like to plan, too. I like the idea of going forward, having learned what I needed to learn from the past, but moving ahead. That’s part of the reason why this year as been a stress for me. I am stuck unable to do that which I do best. I’m resilient but this year is testing me in new ways. And am tired of.

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    • Me too! Of all the things we have lost due to the pandemic and its restrictions, what I miss the most is the ability to plan ahead. It’s incredibly stressful for those of us who like to plan. Luckily, better days are coming, and we will be able to plan with confidence again. Of course, no one knows exactly what the future will bring, and plans are never more than a suggestion, but still….just planning knowing the odds are somewhat with us is huge!

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    • Thanks, Alan! She’s actually beautiful, with big, crystal blue eyes that don’t really photograph well. And she’s the only baby I know who has mastered the art of the ironic smile. Can you tell that’s a proud Grandma talking? But as for as the journey we’re on, that’s exactly where “God’s grip” comes in. Even when we’re scared, and even when we can’t see any hope for the future and are anxious about what’s around the bend, when we remember to trust in God, we can relax and know that we’re in good hands. That’s huge!!!

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  13. First of all, THE BABY ❤ She's adorable ❤

    Everything you've said here is what I've had to learn. I still try to plan a few things lol but for the most part, I don't stress as much as I used to about each and every aspect of an experience.

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    • Thanks so much! She’s stolen my heart for sure. And yeah, I love to plan, and always will. But the past few months have taught me that plans are nothing more than a suggestion for how things will go….and that’s okay. Because as often as things go “off the rails” they also go far better than we had ever imagined. Case in point: last night, I laid awake for three hours worrying about how I would ever get a Covid vaccine and how my inability to do so could derail my husband’s continuing cancer treatment. And you know what? I got my first vaccine today!

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    • Thank you! I am so very grateful. When I heard my daughter-in-law was being prepped for an emergency c-section, my heart almost stopped, I was that worried for both her and the baby. But they’re dong fine now, and you’d never know my granddaughter was born early. Sometimes we just have to trust and believe, I think.

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  14. What a beautiful little grandchild you have there! So many blessings come to us when we are least expecting them! Perhaps, it is best not to look too far ahead, and to celebrate the moments as they come. Each day holds blessings we never could have imagined. 🙂

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    • You are so right, Linda! I think it is so important not only to have faith, but to be open to seeing the blessings that are in our lives, even during the most difficult times. That is what gives us the hope and courage to carry on, and to realize that sometimes, things work out just fine….even when we had feared the very worst.

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  15. Great post as usual, Ann. Just a thought, though–perhaps it’s easier to look ahead when the year behind has been so dark? Not that it lessens the value of the mental exercise. It’s just that it might be an optimal time to acquire a new mental habit. : )

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    • That’s a good point! I think in some ways, the year we’ve just lived through has made me a little bit cynical, and afraid to look forward to anything. But on the other hand, I also feel as if things have no where to go but up, and that gives me hope. I think sometimes we just need to be more intentional about out thoughts, and I’m trying!

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  16. I’ve certainly wished for one more conversation with each of my parents — or maybe two, or three! — but other than that I rarely have a desire to revisit the past. It’s a little ironic: while so many people hunger for international travel and such, I don’t even think about such things because I’ll never be able to afford it. A friend has a saying on her refrigerator: if you’re poor, you don’t care what the stock market does. That applies in so many ways. Those of us who were constrained in various ways — physically, financially, socially — before the pandemic found it easier to cope with the past year, because life didn’t change all that much.

    I do think one advantage of increasing age is the variety of experiences we have along the way. I’ve lived through so many things, including a few significant traumas, that I stay pretty much ‘on kilter.’ I figure if I lived through that, I can live through this.

    One thing did make me laugh, and that was your title. When I was growing up, saying that someone had “gone around the bend” meant that they’d gone crazy. In that sense, I think everyone spent a little time “around the bend” this past year!

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    • Ha! Yeah, I’m old enough that “around the bend” means the same thing to me, so the title was sort of a play on words. On the one hand, look toward what is coming around the bend. On the other hand, I’ve sort of gone around the bend…..
      But that’s a good point about the pandemic. I think those who are suffering the most are those who have 1) lost a loved one to the disease and 2) those who have had their lives severely disrupted by the restrictions in response to the disease. Those of us who haven’t had significant changes forced on them find it easier to take the whole thing in stride. It’s all a matter of perspective. And yeah, once you’ve lived through some hard stuff in your life, you stop being quite so scared of hard times!

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  17. It’s true, turning back time would be wonderful especially as we grow older and lose people we love. I like “all you can do in this life is buckle up and enjoy the ride, looking firmly forward.” We have no choice. I’m hoping there will be a little less unknowns in 2021. =) A thought-provoking piece as always, Ann. Your grand-daughter certainly is adorable!

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    • Thanks, Brenda! I’ve never been good at letting go of the past and simply looking toward the future, but I have to admit that the past year has forced me to get better at it. And I think that’s probably a good thing!

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    • Thank you so much! And yeah, it is an apt mantra for this year….I’ve found that when I can let go of my need to control things and simply look to the future with interest and no fear that my attitude improves immeasurably!

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  18. “But life is not just a journey. It’s a journey on a one-way street, often in a speeding car, without a u-turn ramp in sight.” I related to what you shared here. I too am seeking to enjoy the ride however it shows up.

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  19. Good thinking!

    I must admit, I try not to think too far into the future at the moment, but only because everything is so uncertain and at times I can’t see us getting out of this. I do know it will pass though and I do look forward to being able to go to concerts and shows again and to being able to get out and about properly.

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    • I know what you mean! We’ve been conditioned to expect the worst after the year we’ve been through, and to be almost afraid of normal human contact. But this will end, and we will get back to some semblance of normal. I can only hope that when the next pandemic arrives, we’ve figured out a better way to deal with it than months-long lock downs.

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  20. “Life is not just a journey. It’s a journey on a one-way street, often in a speeding car, without a u-turn ramp in sight.” Love that. And, oh, is it true, Ann. So glad you’re granddaughter’s doing well, and that you’re continuing to grow in wisdom and share it with others!

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  21. I much enjoyed reading this blog and 2 others by Ann. Great that it reads/feels like chatter, but it’s not empty words! no I admire the thought behind the pieces, yet I’m sorry (new to this online community, and fearful a bit of how anything said might be perceived or misconstrued. Ann, thank you for some pleasant minutes reading another person’s thoughts and story. You inspire me …… but …… Sorry I have some reservations about this whole business, killing time yet just as I too love writing and I may be too serious (and clutter-brained overthinking, it is good therapy to talk like this in your writing, but but but I ponder over who will read, and/or value what I could say. Under-confidence? Do I occupy myself for my own sake ,or is there real life and excitement, passion, interest outside my study and too much introspection? Fear not age or future, live happy NOW NOW NOW (Eckhart book to refer people to), . I’ve learnt maybe too harshly it if unfair to myself or anyone to ‘live in the past’ and damn memories. To be censored. Love music and wish for dialogue on any genre or subject. Get a life! or lives as PC dictatorship of what you want say wins it ,,,,,,,, bless your heart xx

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    • I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I think we all get to make our own decisions about how much we live in the past, present or future (in our minds, anyway) and we tend to do what works best for us. For me, learning to look more toward the future helps. And the same thing with blogging…we do it the way that feels right to us, not to others . Best of luck to you, and thanks for the comment!

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  22. You’re absolutely right about the one way street, Ann. There are so many people/occasions I’d love the chance to revisit but we have to learn to face whatever litres ahead – it’s coming whether we’re ready for or not.

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