We romanticize our past. Often what we remember is a story we tell ourselves, bloated with nostalgia-what we wish had happened. These memories can hold us back from embracing today. We find ourselves longing for a moment that never actually happened. It keeps us stuck in previous ways of being instead of taking the brave steps toward an unknown future that is bigger than we could ever know.
My friend BJ shared with me the story of her red tin star-a Christmas tree ornament she longed to retrieve from her ex-husband. She remembered it as antique, with beautiful dappled light peeking out. It carried great sentimental value, and she longed to have it in her new home.
When BJ received the star, it was nothing like she had remembered. It was cheap plastic. A shell of the memory she held in her head.
Since that moment, BJ uses the phrase Red Tin Stars when she finds herself thinking longingly of what once was. It helps her to realize that each memory has many versions–stories of nostalgia, stories of happiness, and stories of regret.
Rather than looking back to memories that might fail us, we can stay present in what we can build today. The Red Tin Star reminds us that what we remember as sweet and perfect has all the flaws of any moment. Better to find gratitude in this day and build toward a future that shines bright just as we hope it can.
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