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The way it used to be

A favorite pastime of the older generation, and by older I mean anyone who has lived more than a couple decades, is to grumble nostalgically about “how things used to be.” There used to be more respect, there used to be more determination, there used to be more communication, there used to be more focus; the list goes on.

Of course, the world changes and so do people’s behavior patterns, and no doubt our parents looked at us the same way. With every development in the world, people’s attitudes change — sometimes for the better and sometimes not. But there’s no denying that we live in a fast-paced world, and the older we get the more we miss the simplicity of the past. Even if the past wasn’t always so great, there is comfort in the familiar and change can be unsettling.

So while there is certainly value in change and progress, being able to bridge the past with the present and knowing that the way things used to be can be adapted to still function in today’s world, is a comforting feeling. But that won’t happen on its own; we need to be proactive about not allowing the past to remain in the past, rather we need to take steps to ensure that we can utilize our memories and nostalgia to form a comfortable present, and more importantly — a perfect future.

This is the case even if you don’t feel you are up to it, and you believe that it shouldn't be left up to you to ensure that the past is blended with the present. There are others who are better at it and they should be the ones getting to work to keep the nostalgia alive. But if everyone chooses to sit around and complain about how things used to be, you can be sure that no one will ever do anything about it. If you want it to happen, and it’s something that is meaningful to you, then you need to be the one to ensure that it becomes a reality.

This was exemplified by Moses, the first leader of the Jewish people, after his two older siblings, Miriam and Aaron, passed away.

While the Jews were traveling in the desert for forty years, they were miraculously sustained by three items: manna for their basic nutrition, a water spring for hydration, and clouds that served as barriers around the Jewish camp for their protection and unification. The manna was brought to the Jews in the merit of Moses, the water came in the merit of Miriam, and the clouds in Aaron’s merit. Each of these great leaders had a unique spiritual connection to the sustenance they elicited for the people.

When Miriam and Aaron passed away, the spring and the clouds briefly ceased to provide these necessities. But soon thereafter they resumed, this time in the merit of Moses himself. Despite the primary purpose of Moses being to provide nutrition — spiritual and material — for the Jewish people, while his siblings focused on the other two vital needs, once they passed away and there was an obvious deficiency, Moses allowed for his focus to expand and include items beyond his typical purview.

He didn’t sit around and complain about how much he missed his siblings and their accomplishments. Instead, he took it upon himself to bring their influence back, this time through him. He didn’t wax nostalgic about how things used to be; he ensured that what used to be would actually continue to be, even if it meant expanding his horizons beyond what he was accustomed to. He was the one to achieve what everyone else was hoping “someone” would.

And that “someone” can be you too.

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