There’s a statue in front of the National Archives in Washington, DC inscribed with the words ‘What is past, is prologue.’ I always loved walking by there (it’s a gorgeous building and an imposing statue) and without really thinking about it, I always assumed that statement was a warning that we are destined to repeat history.
But if you look up the word ‘prologue’ in a dictionary as I did today, you’ll find that it means ‘preface’ or ‘introduction.’ Isn’t it funny how you can have something so firm in your mind for so long and then realize that its not exactly what you thought? ‘Our past is an introduction to our future.’
For the first forty years of my life I was overweight, and for most of my adult life I was on a rollercoaster of weight gain and loss. The brief times I was thin were always a result of some starvation diet or crazy exercise scheme. The more common times that I was heavy were protracted and often resulted from post-diet rebound. My life experience was that eating and body weight were just not things over which I had any hope of control.
Having spent the past four years being slender, and with only modest weight gains and losses, I still don’t feel as if I am ‘cured’ or can do this on automatic pilot. When I have ‘unfortunate eating episodes’ I think about the times when I gained back all the weight (and more). When a pair of pants feels tight, I recall what this generally meant in the past (i.e. time to throw out all the ‘skinny clothes.’). These memories are strong and based on experience.
But I’m not doomed to repeat it. It is not my destiny to be overweight. The experiences of the past are a prologue – ‘a speech at the beginning of a play.’ Memories of unhealthy eating and an overweight body speak to what has happened, but they are not predictors of the future.
History is not destined to repeat itself. Just a little something to think about as we approach the new year.