Annemarie and I recently were on a two week cruise to Hawaii out of Los Angeles.   We had a suite at the very back of the ship with a large balcony.   While I sat on our balcony looking at the ship’s wake as we passed through the ocean, I was struck by the fact that I was watching where we had been rather than where we were going.  I was also struck by the realization that this was a perfect analogy for the fact that, in our lives, hindsight has a way of validating or refuting our vision of the future.

To pass the time, I read President Bush’s book, “Decision Points”.   The book is essentially about the decisions he made as stated in the reflective light of hindsight.  Even though the decisions and choices he was called on to make may seem monumental when compared to those we must make in our daily lives, the process is the same.   We can only make our decisions based on what we believe are the right choices for our future and we can only know if we made the right decisions after they have become history.

That is the dilemma we all face and is the common theme of all human drama.   We often agonize over the choices and decisions we must make in our lives.   Is this the right career?  Is this the right person for me?  Should I stay or should I leave?   Do I proceed with caution or do I act boldly?   Yet, with each decision we know that we are taking a leap of faith.   We will never know if we made the right choice until after it is made.  Fortunately, it is not always too late when we realize we have made the wrong choice and we get a second chance.

We tend to admire those people who have the foresight to seemingly always make the right decisions; however, in reality they are only guessing, perhaps, they are making intelligent and informed guesses but guesses none the less.   Even though we down play the value of hindsight it is, in fact, the only time we have clarity.

Since we can only judge our choices by hindsight, it is a little like sitting at the back of the ship.   We see where we have been much more clearly then we can ever see where we are going.    It is only as we pass through our lives that we are able to see the consequences of our decisions.   The wake we leave behind is the legacy of our life’s journey.