Remona Aly
Friday 29 January 2016 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Learning from the Past

“Learning from the past”, Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2 Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show


My mum used to say that I was born in the wrong century. She looked on perplexed while I obsessed over ancient Greek civilisation, pored over the legends of King Arthur, and found life-giving energy in watching the BBC dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice over and over again.

I felt I could learn so much from these past worlds, because they had two things in abundance: beauty and meaning. These stories held up a magnifying glass to what it is to be human – in all its wondrous shades and hues.

But it’s like we’re more in the dark today than we ever were in the dark ages. We live in the here and now, and tend to forget how we got here. But it was all the yesterdays that make me who I am today.

I look back on myself when I was 14, 18, 25, and remember awkward moments and bad decisions and I think –  I really should have done that differently. But you know what, I needed to make those mistakes. I wasn’t meant to stand up to that mean girl at school, because I had to learn not to be a pushover later on. I was destined to feel the pain of having my trust shaken, so that I would later know the value of true friendship. And I was always going to be a fashion disaster in my teens because it meant that there would only be room for improvement.

Regret is no friend of mine. It won’t help me grow. 

And I take assurance today from a 1400 year old saying of Prophet Muhammad who said: “Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by.”

My backstory played out just as it was meant to, with all its perfect and imperfect moments. It’s like a giant collage, with pictures of joy, struggle, love, disillusionment, tragedy and faith.

My past paints the person I am now. I look at all the mistakes I made, and I think, well – they only make me more colourful.