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Published:July 11th, 2006 06:52 EST
The Future

The Future

By Anita Helton

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

When asked what this quote means to me, several things come to mind. Predominately, I think Emerson most eloquently summed up my feelings on life and dealing with situations. While what has happened in the past and the preparations of the future do affect us, it is most important what you do with what you are given. These words are very inspiring and speak volumes of the idea train of thought.

I feel what lies behind me has had a great impact on the person I have become today. Coming from a broken home consisting only of an alcoholic mother is not the ideal situation for any little girl to grow up in. Due to her inability to raise a child properly, I have been shuffled from family members to foster homes to distant relatives since the age of five. The situations she put me in while I was with her were horrible matters that no child should have to go through. I could have taken all of this and stuck to the path I was born into. I could have fulfilled the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Instead, I have taken other people’s mistakes and learned from them. I have strived to have a better life for myself despite my environment or circumstances. I have chosen to overcome the far less than perfect situations and use them to my advantage. I have become a reach-for-the-stars kind of girl due to the past. I believe this is what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when referring to the past as small compared to what lies within us.

What lies ahead of me is (God willing) a lifetime of discovery and wonder. I have dreams and goals I wish to fulfill of being a doctor, making a difference, saving someone’s life, writing a book, having kids, and many more. While those are big things there is a chance that I might never make it to these things. My self worth is not based on these things if something causes me to not be able to achieve these things just as my self worth doesn’t depend on what my past entails. To me this is primarily what Emerson was saying with this.

To me he is saying that past or future don’t matter as much as what you have inside of you at this moment. I think he also is urging his readers to grab life and make the most of it today. I think I most closely identify with this as far as dealing with the past goes. I think as a person I have overcome quite a bit and been through even more but it doesn’t matter how much I have been through what matters is how I deal with it. If only everyone could see the wisdom in this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think it would be very beneficial to everyone for no one’s life goes untouched of pain. I think it would also remind many that is important to trust yourself and to strive to be the best you can be.