Backward Glances

By Michele Ebel –

It’s January, the time of year when many of us make New Year’s resolutions to change our behaviour and head off in a new direction on what we hope will be a smoother or smarter or happier or healthier road. Self-improvement always represents a worthwhile endeavour, and forward is certainly the right direction to go, but before we plunge ahead, it’s probably a good idea for us to take heed of the old adage “look before you leap.” In other words, take a backward glance.

Anyone who has ever driven a car on a busy highway understands the importance of backward glances. In driver-speak, it’s called “checking your blind spot,” and it’s the only way to make sure you don’t get clobbered when you change lanes. People who fail to check their blind spot unknowingly wreak havoc on the road, pushing other drivers out of their lane, forcing them to swerve – or worse. Checking your blind spot is a sure way to avoid causing that kind of chaos, and it’s a very simple thing to do. That one little backward glance allows us make a fully informed decision about whether it’s safe to proceed.

Just as backward glances keep us safe when we’re on the road, they can be equally important when we’re travelling along the highway of life. If we fail to look over our shoulder, we miss out on some significant moments along the way. For example, if we don’t bother to take a backward glance, we don’t see the look of hurt on our partner’s face when we thoughtlessly toss a barb in their direction, and as a result, we lose the opportunityto make amends and the hurt just carries on. Sometimes,a backward glance can reveal that our child, nervous about the new teacher or the big test or the lunchroom bully, has turned around for one last look of reassurance from Mom or Dad just before heading through the door of the school. Other times, we might miss seeing our parents as they stand on their front porch, waving goodbye at the end of a visit and watching until the last possible minute to make sure we get away safely. If we take a backward glance, we gain a treasured image to carry with us on the drive home.

In the figurative sense, backward glances help us to preserve our connection with people from our past, remembering all the things they did and said and all the lessons they taught us. Our personal histories are full of names and faces we should takewith us as we move forward in our lives, and these passengersassure us of some truly excellent company on the journey that lies ahead. A backward glance reminds us that they’re all still there, encouraging us in their own way to keep moving forward.

In our individual quests to conquer all kinds of important new territory in the New Year, let’s remember to take a quick look over our shoulder before we proceed. That way, we’ll become more aware of our surroundings, show some respect for our fellow travellers, and ward off disaster before it strikes. Just one little backward glance is all it takes to assure us that the way is clear and it’s safe for us to carry on.

Happy New Year!




Michele Ebel: For over 15 years, Michele Ebel has operated an online copyediting business out of her home in London, Ontario. The Internet allows her to work with clients from all over the world to polish and improve their written presentations of business cases, journal articles, thesis papers, website copy, manuscripts and more.

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