The Future-Past Collide

One of the rather few regular email updates I receive now (since my online reading reboot) is from our county library service. It contains the latest with regards to the coronavirus restrictions, but also spotlights some of the services they also offer (many online) that one might not be aware of.

One of these is a photo archive of many of the towns and villages in the county. Which I’ve begun exploring with great interest – mostly the places I lived and visited in my childhood.

Which got me thinking.

There seems to be a tipping point in an adult’s life where they look to the past more often than the future.

As a very young child, everything is intense and in the now.

You bite into a strawberry and it’s the most delicious experience you’ve ever known. You fall and scrape your knee and the world is full of pain.

Then 30 seconds later, you move on to the next vivid experience.

Slightly older children start to grasp the concept of time, and are able to anticipate.

They look forward to exciting occasions like birthdays and Christmas, or even the weekend, when after a week of learning, they’re allowed some downtime on their TV and/or PlayStation again.

So much of their thinking is about events in the future, literally looking forward to the next event.

Then as an adult, the capacity for anticipation is still there, but perhaps muted.

Christmas isn’t the event it is for kids, and perhaps you look fondly back at your own favourite Christmases as a child.

Birthdays come and go, another date on the calendar, another year lived. Again you might start reminiscing about some of your best days gone by.

And so it spreads.

An interest in local and family history starts to grow, a subject you found terribly tedious at school, even if you did like the teacher’s sing-song Welsh lilt.

You can’t believe how long ago events were.

My very recent 10 year anniversary of committing to a daily yoga practice reminded me it was around this time I embarked on a salsa sabbatical after 4.5 years of teaching and dancing. Which, a decade on I haven’t yet returned from. But that period somehow seems longer than the 10 years since I last did, even though it was less than half the length.

So at what point does this happen? When does the past occupy more of your thinking time and capacity than the future?

I was also wondering how this relates to photography.

My own life story in cameras doesn’t correlate well with what was commercially available new, unlike many who follow the upgrade parade.

In other words, the camera(s) I’ve had at any point in the last 15 years hasn’t been the latest camera of a specific type available. It’s already five, 10, 25 years old.

So I haven’t had this nostalgic effect of looking back to previous cameras, like someone who perhaps shot film from the 70s to early 2000s, switched to digital, then a couple of years later longed for the film days again and so invested in a couple of classic film cameras.

And now, when thinking about potential new cameras, I’m infinitely more likely to consider, say, Panasonic’s 2008 Lumix line up, than their 2021 offerings.

How does this manifest for you? Are you at a point where you look to the past more than the future? When did this happen?

How about cameras? Do you more often look forward to new, as yet unreleased models you might buy, or pore over old reviews and eBay listings for a pre-loved classic?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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6 thoughts on “The Future-Past Collide”

  1. The almost daily thought that the majority of my life is behind me now and the future is inevitably shorter is quite enough for me. Never mind the quality issues. When was the first trigger? That’s hard to say. Possibly the birth of the first grandchild, and certainly when he officially became an adult. The realization that my sister and I are the last living of all those we knew growing up is quite disturbing too.
    Sometimes it’s best not to think about the passing of time. Difficult to do I admit. You need to fill the moments you can and try to be a kid again.

    1. Yes, it’s amazing how much having children of your own unlocks memories of your own childhood (good and not so good) that have been buried for years. Plus having children gives one a great excuse to be childlike again, you know, just for their sake. : )

  2. I just turned 50 and I think focusing on the future instead of reminiscing about the good old days, makes one feel like age is just a number. I think you always need to have something to look forward to. I certainly do…

  3. Hi Dan, I have just purchased a Vito B and have looked everywhere for some idea as to which film to run through it first. I want black and white bit after that I have no idea which one to choose. Any thoughts ?

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