Life Understood Backwards…

“It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.” 
Søren Kierkegaard

Past & Present

Søren Kierkegaard’s quote “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” reminds me of the intricacies of navigating a timeline that pushes us in only one direction – forward.  It is impossible to even go back a few seconds, much less a decade or a lifetime.   Instead, we have been given the gift of memory that allows us to reflect upon events, circumstances and decisions that have nuanced our journey.

Over the past weeks, looking backwards has given me a glimpse into an ancient world which is often celebrated within the framework of legend that borders on mythology.   Yet, these men and women were made of flesh and blood.  They lived extraordinary lives and left a legacy for those that came after.  As I read their narratives, I wondered why they chose to think differently, to ignore the demands of accepted cultural norms. They embraced a more arduous route, seeking fulfillment that transcended trivial rewards offered by a status quo existence.

This week, I want to look backwards, to pause and reflect on the lives of the ancients, from Euclid to Aspasia, Thales to Zeno, Hipparchia to Ptolemy.  I confess that I have not mapped out an outline for the next few posts, merely an idea that I want to follow as I consider my place in a world that is moving ever forward.

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
Albert Einstein

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

28 thoughts on “Life Understood Backwards…

  1. It sounds like a fascinating project Rebecca – looking forward to it…and what a wonderful quote from Einstein, so many levels of meaning there!!!


    1. You add so much to my blogging experience, Valerie. I am looking forward to the next week myself. Not certain where I am heading, but then do we ever know the pathway until we take the first step…?


    1. I agree wholeheartedly. It seems that we try to find freedom in certainty; we canonize our existence by excluding possibilities that are grander than our wildest expectation. Thank you Arjun for your comments and presence – much appreciated.


    1. This was an excellent article – thank you!!! I especially appreciated when he said that, “People understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood.”

      I am grateful for the philosophers of this world, who see things in different ways. It is not a journey for the fainthearted.

      The Google Doodles are really creative!


      1. The life of a philosopher is not an easy one, especially when his/her thoughts push against the tide of popular opinion, or a simply misunderstood. I was interested in how much effort is being made to educate young school children about their own famous Dane.


      2. Our educational systems are going through radical changes, brought about by our willingness to discuss different alternatives. Even so, we will always have the early and late adopters. It was refreshing to read that they were celebrating Søren Kierkegaard’s birth and contribution. Looking back is liberating.


  2. So, we are hearing from Kierkegaard. Good. We are hearing from these wise men and women because their stories and philosophies were written for us to read. How else would we know? Keep; writing, Lady Budd.


  3. Thoughtful post, with more to come from what you said here. The Einstein quote very apt – he said so many accurate things, insights beyond physics.


    1. Thank you for joining the dialogue – great to have your thoughts. I agree, Albert Einstein opened the scientific community to new possibilities! And he shared his knowledge to the wider community without any pretentiousness.

      “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
      ― Albert Einstein

      A life well lived…


  4. Hello Rebecca,

    A path less well worn, I remember way back being shown a painting in a Christian and therefore a religious context, It had two paths, one going to heaven and other to hell. One full of people the other almost empty.

    The older I have got, the less sure I am about which path truly leads where and to what, and how many people are on each path, but there you go!!

    Great post this !

    What does make some go down the less well worked paths ?


    “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
    Albert Einstein

    I find this an amazing concept!

    People say you cannot go back, but what is the past if no one remembers it any-more?

    How many times have people changed the past by rewriting it, they are not physically in it but they have spiritually changed it etc…

    I look forward to your latest posts and have been enjoying everything you have written about to date. Thank you! 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for your insights, Nigel. The older I become, the more I recognize the pathway has twists, turns and bumps. Most people would say that they prefer the road less traveled and then quote the famous Robert Frost poem to emphasize the point (which I have done myself). This suggests that there are many roads that are less traveled, which to me is a good sign.

      The joy of living can be found, not in certainty, but in explorations of the unknown. I thought that you would like the following quote –

      “The mind is a universe and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
      ― John Milton


      1. Absolutely Rebecca, I am so much more easy with images and visual things. It took me a long time in my life to be able to use words.

        Getting better all the time though since making great connections over these blogging miles as you have been saying!!!

        Thanks Rebecca


    1. I am truly honoured by your encouraging comments. You continue to amazed me by your depth and breadth of photographs. You have taken me several times around the world…


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: