We look at the present through a rear view mirror; we walk backwards into the future - Marshall McLuhan

Walking backwards into the future is an aptitude that values remembering and understanding our past in order to better prepare for tomorrow. While McLuhan encapsulates this aptitude in a characteristically pithy and memorable aphorism, it draws on a view of time shared by many cultures worldwide including the Maori and ancient Greeks. The core disposition of this aptitude is the observation and acknowledgement of what and whom came before us (our roots and ancestors), and acceptance that the future is ultimately unknowable. A clear view of the past can encourage us to keep walking into the future, supported by rather than weighted down by our histories.

This aptitude could easily be called epimethean. In Greek mythology, Epimetheus is the brother of the better known Prometheus, whose name literally means hindsight. In the myth Epimetheus made a mistake on which he reflected after the fact. Related to 'walking backwards into the future' Epimeteus symbolises a more humble, interdependent attitude towards our own achievements in the past and present, a more spontaneous approach to time (in contrast to the Promethean calculated time) which accepts mistakes and learns from them.

  • Be a keen observer of the present
  • Be curious about and learn from the past
  • Be aware where you come from (your ancestors, your lineages, your historical context)
  • Acknowledge and learn from your mistakes
  • Find patterns and deep causes of your present situation
  • Accept that the future is unknowable
  • Embrace the passage of time