Chris Guillebeau struck a chord with his blog today ,“ The Past Wasn’t Better. Choose the Present Instead”, . He relayed a story about a time his friends got together for a “gaming session”. They had ordered an emulator, which allowed them to play the games of their youth on the modern gaming console of the time. They realized after a couple of hours of playing the “old games” that the games weren’t as fun as what they remembered. They were very simplistic and hard – dying over and over again and not advancing to the next level wasn’t fun – it was frustrating.
Chris made the point that it’s easy to look back with fondness on the good ole days, but our memories get distorted as time passes and sometimes what we looked back on with fondness, never happened.
I had an interesting and somewhat similar experience this past weekend. I had been invited to speak and coach at the 2013 Syracuse University Fall Workshops, which ASMP had contributed to as a sponsor. It was an intensely creative 3-day workshop where journalism students from the Newhouse School, came together with some of the best editors, designers, photographers and multimedia producers working in journalism. It was a hands-on workshop, where students worked with their coaches, to produce their projects (stories), under a tight 3-day deadline. What stood out to me this weekend, was that the “learning” wasn’t a one-way experience. I learned as much as I shared – from the other coaches, as well as from the students. I’m sure I’m not the only coach, who picked up some tips from their students this weekend. I was also inspired and amazed at what is possible now, in terms of new ways to tell a story.
Sure, there are days when I’m simply overwhelmed by technology and the continued learning curve that comes with it. And sometimes, I look back and fantasize how much better it was in the past. At the workshop, one of my students had more than her share of technology mishaps. At one point after losing hours of work, due to a software glitch along with not being able to access her audio files, somewhere in “the cloud”, she remarked with exasperation “ I wish things were like they used to be”. She meant when things were tangible and analog. I quickly replied, “No you don’t because this 3 day workshop would have taken 3 months”. It was a moment when we both had the same realization that Chris Guillebeau had – our memories and perceptions of the old days are sometimes blurred and over glorified.
As much as we remember and long for the old days, the fact is we have it pretty good now. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remind myself of that. I choose to focus on what I am able to do in the present rather than look back at what was. If we choose to stay in the past and remember things being better then they are now, we’ll miss out on a whole lot of possibilities. As Chris beautifully sums it up: “Let go of the glory days. Live in the present and build for the future.”