I Can’t Live in the Past, but Can’t Ignore It Either

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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A year ago, I wrote about the yearly calendar’s halfway point being a great time to check in on my annual goals and the routines I employ to accomplish them. Although we are halfway through 2020, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like a do-over for this year.

Like it or not, though, the sun continues to rise and set, and the days keep moving from tomorrow to yesterday. Every passing day is an opportunity for me to evaluate what I’m doing and to ask myself if my activities and routines are helping me reach my personal objectives.

The calendar isn’t what has this fresh on my mind, though. And it isn’t just the past six months that are occupying my thoughts.

A recent road trip to visit family had me in the car alone for several hours. I’m not a fan of solo road trips, mostly because of the energy deprivation brought on by Friedreich’s ataxia. As it often does for babies, the car puts me to sleep.

Unable to play on my phone or converse with others, many things consumed my mind. Until I was driving south on Highway 99 through central California over the weekend, I hadn’t allowed myself to be alone with my thoughts without distraction in a long time.

On one hand, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about my goals, both short- and long-term. This is always a welcome exercise because it reminds me what I’m doing and usually sparks additional motivation that encourages me to stay the course. 

On the other hand, my mind wandered down rabbit trails. I found myself pondering significant events from 10 years ago that have impacted my life.

Some were special and brought back fond memories of friendships that influenced much of my daily activities and the various seasons of my life. In 2010, I rode my bike across the country as a member of a four-man relay known as Team FARA. Some of my strongest friendships were forged during that adventure.

But fond memories of my past aren’t my reason for writing. Memories of loss, heartbreak, and unrealized dreams were what consumed much of my recent time driving. They were things I thought I had worked through years ago. I never expected them to boil up again and consume as much mental energy as they did.

I wonder if this is a normal part of strolling down memory lane or if it’s a possible precursor to a midlife crisis — I’m certainly in that window of age. I’ve driven that route a hundred times and I’ve been alone with my thoughts for days on end. This particular time seemed different, though. 

Whatever the case, I’m convinced there are issues from my past I have not come to terms with completely, and I feel the need to do so. I’m not sure if that means I need to pick up my journal again, laugh with some old friends, let a few tears drop, or perhaps talk openly with a mentor.

Ignoring these thoughts might only exacerbate their impact on my internal health down the road. There may be a dozen things I can’t fix or change, but how I handle my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and connection to the past will certainly have an impact on my future.

It’s easy for me to think there’s no need to revisit certain things simply because of the years that have passed. However, the title of this column, which serves as a personal mantra as well, reminds me that even a lapse of time would just be an excuse to leave some stones unturned.

Ignoring things, new or old, never makes them go away and rarely makes anything better.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


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