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Michael Wilkes. File Photo: SUPPLIED

A past that informs, not defines

There is a well know whakatauki [Māori proverb] that speaks of walking backward into the future.
“Ka mu, ka muri.”
The idea that we should look to the past to inform our future. And yet I wonder if this is quite different from letting our past shape or dictate our future.
Several years ago, I remember sitting with a young man and asking him what his future looked like. His response was that he would be in prison. Perplexed I asked why.
“Because that is my path” he responded. He went on to explain that everyone he knew who had walked the path he was on, everyone he knew who had gone to the same schools he had been to, everyone he knew who had been kicked out and sent to alternative education as he had been… all ended up in prison.
For this young man, the past was not something to grow and learn from. The past was the thing that would decide his future. The great news is that his path did not go that way because he learned a deep truth that we all need.
Our past is a great teacher, but our future is decided by the choices we make.
This is a key aspect of what we are teaching within our youth work. But before we can learn to choose well, we need to first consider what it is that brings us life. What are the things that we value and hold most dear. What are the things we hope for in life.
Because these are the very things that will get us out of bed each morning, these are the things that will help guide our decisions, and hopefully the things that can shape our families and our future.
If you have not considered such questions for yourself and your family; the time is no better than the present.
Consider the things most dear, write them on your heart, write them on the toilet wall, put them into art and introduce them to your kids.
Because the past can inform our steps but its our heart and vision that need to shape our homes and our future.
– Michael Wilkes is a Living Well Trust Youth Worker