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Y For Yesterday

May 26, 2020

Y For Yesterday


A guy from England, named John, had just arrived in New York for the first time and took a taxi to get to his hotel. Being in New York for the first time, he had a lot to admire and so when they passed the great great statue of liberty, John tapped the taxi driver on the shoulder to get his attention so he could ask him a question about the impressive building.


Unfortunately John's action scared the driver so badly that he lost control of the wheel, nearly hit a shop and almost ran into a home. By the time the driver finally managed to control the wheel, John had totally forgotten the question he wanted to ask and all he could ask was: "What happened?"

The driver replied: "It's not your fault and I sincerely apologize for what just happened. This is my first day as a taxi driver, and you are my first client actually. You see, up until yesterday, for the last 25 years I have been driving a hearse..."


Let’s talk about what happened to you yesterday; it could have been something great or something disappointing, but the fact is that it happened yesterday.


Yesterday is a word made from combining two words; yester which is a prefix denoting or indicating a period of time before the present one, and day which means a period of 24 hours. With that in mind I guess we can say yesterday means the last 24 hours that passed.

You can also add the prefix yester to year, month and week to say yesteryear, yestermonth and yesterweek respectivel, but  I guess that’s very old English.


Now that we have settled the meaning of the word yesterday, allow me take you back to the story I started with earlier. 


What really happened to the taxi driver? From his explanation, my conclusion is that he freaked out because for 25 years, his passengers were always dead, and now there he was, driving a normal taxi, but it seems his brain was still in the past.  He had completely forgotten that he was no longer driving a hearse, and so when his first passenger as a cab driver tapped him on his shoulder, his mind told him the tap was coming from a dead man. Why? Because for 25 years, his passengers had been dead people, up until yesterday.

Living in “yesterday” is dangerous. It can lead you to destruction or near death experiences literally like it almost happened to the cab driver and his passenger. Most people go through life being pulled by the memories of yesterday, be they good or bad. 


I’m sure you have that old uncle or aunt in your family who often says stuff like, “when I was your age I used to be this and that. People really respected me" etc…. whenever I hear people saying stuff like that, the question that comes to mind is, so what’s stopping you from doing other things that can bring you the same glory, if not more of it? You see, those are the kind of people who live in the past glory of their past achievements, and for some reason they don’t seem to realize it’s obsolete, that the glory has been overtaken by events. 


Jim Carroll in one of his keynote speeches once said, “Yesterday’s success story is already out of date. You need to rewrite it with a new beginning and a different ending!


I completely concur with him because what people don’t realize is that by focusing on your past glory, a few bad things could happen. For instance:

  • Complacency sets in. This is a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, waiting to happen. The person is so full of self-satisfaction with an existing situation or condition that they are blind to the possibility of things changing against them. For instance, an employee who has been in a particular position for so long that he feels he has finally arrived. Then corona happened and the company is now downsizing people, and he is one of those who has to leave. On asking why he has to leave, he is told that the management has to restructure the company and its products to align with the current changes in the world, but since his skills are obsolete and cannot be applied in the newly restructured company, the management has no choice but to let him go.

What happened to that guy? He forgot to live in the present and basked in his former glory for too long that he stopped doing important things such as personal development and reading signs of the times. 


Another example is in the area of relationships. When a couple is still dating, they seem to automatically understand what the other person needs and they seem to do it without any effor or without having to be reminded. But what happens once they get married? Those who are not careful and cautious enough allow complacency to set in. Like I always tell young people, the wedding day is the beginning of the real relationship. Everything else was just a rehearsal and so to maintain that relationship, a lot more has to be done to keep the marriage alive.

Complacency is a very dangerous attitude and unfortunately and almost unbelievably so, one of the triggers of complacency is success. So to avoid being caught in that snare of complacency, choose to stop living in your past successes. Be thankful that you succeeded learn what you can from those successes but don't get stuck there because of you do..... 


  • You miss the boat. As a result of complacency, when new opportunities come guess what happens? Like the employee in the example I just gave, basking in your past glory is likely to cause you to miss the opportunity to sail with those who are going a different direction. Why? Because while they were busy preparing for the "trip", you were lost in yesterday’s success.

While you were busy glorying in your past successes as the best door to door sales person for instance, some young freshman straight from university came up with a proposal based on new technologies and new market approaches, and the management realized his proposal could actually save them money. And because of that, they choose the young guy who seems to have earphones permanently fixed in his ears, and they let you go.

How did that happen? You were so caught up in your past successes, that you missed the signs of the time and therefore lost the opportunity to present this idea yourself, and so eventually you miss the boat. 


I guess those two examples are enough. Now let’s talk about being stuck in your negative past. 


Whatever issues happened in your past please leave them in your past. Like Roy Bennett said, “No amount of regretting can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future.


There’s an Arab proverb that states that you should write the bad things that happen to you in the sand, so that they can be easily erased from your memory. Unfortunately, most of us choose to engrave the bad things that happen to us in marble; therefore, our painful memories remain immortalized in our minds.


We walk around with our failures, our mistakes, our disappointments, and our hurts, not knowing that in order to live fully in the present and adequately plan for the future, we need to learn what we can from the painful memories of the past, and then let those memories go.


The past can hold you back in life, it can hurt your present, and it can ruin your future.

Let go of the past so that you can be free to move on. No matter how hard you try, you don’t have the power to change it. No one can change the past. What’s done is done and you can’t go back to the past and change the situation. The only thing you can do is to accept it, learn from it and move on. 


Choose to forgive yourself and others and don’t waste your precious minutes dwelling on the past events. I’m sure in the last few months corona has taught us all what the important things in life are, and they definitely aren’t in the past. Your health, the health of your loved ones, you family, your own sanity, etc. That's what matters right now. I’m sure now more than ever you have more important things to think about and a different way to think about them, so why not focus on them instead of things that happened in the past!


Not letting go of your yesterday’s pain causes bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and a whole load of similar emotions. It paves way for fear, lack of self-confidence and a low self-esteem all of which immobilize you and stop you from living to your full potential. Living in the past can be hazardous to your present and future self. Like Charles F. Glassman said, “The best way to make peace with your past is not using it to make war with your present.” 


So, what areas of your life are still stuck in your version of yesterday? Make a decision today to vacate from your past and move in with the present. And while you are moving in, the only pieces of your past that you need to keep are the lessons you learnt along the way. 


Leave all your past baggage in the past and live in the present as you work to create the future you want.


To listen to the episode of Y for Yesterday click here.


Be ignited. Be inspired. Be influenced to live in the present as you work towards becoming the best version of yourself you can ever be. Be blessed, stay safe and stay sane.



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