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0933 Letting Go of the Past

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 933 – Letting Go of the Past.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 933. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. It is beautiful here in Los Angeles, California, today. Here, look – can you see? The sun is shining. It's wonderful. I hope the sun is shining wherever you are, at least in your heart.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Go there to become a member of ESL Podcast.

This episode is a dialogue between Emma and Uday about forgetting about things that have happened to you in the past. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Emma: I think it’s time.

Uday: I beg to differ.

Emma: You can’t live in the past. I know that you like reliving your glory days, but the only way to move on is to let go of the past.

Uday: I don’t want to move on. If you’ve had the life I’ve had, you’d cling to the past, too.

Emma: But your best days are still to come. Constantly harking back to days gone by doesn’t allow you to live in the moment and to plan for the future.

Uday: So what? I have my memories to comfort me in my old age.

Emma: You’re speaking as though your life were over. You’re still young.

Uday: Not as young as I used to be.

Emma: These old trophies and football jerseys won’t keep you young.

Uday: Yes, but they help me remember some of the highlights of the old days. Did I ever tell you about the time I single-handedly won the game?

Emma: Uh . . .

[end of dialogue]

Emma begins our dialogue by saying to Uday, “I think it's time.” “It's time” is a phrase we use to mean that something should be done right now, immediately, without waiting. We’re not sure exactly what Emma is talking about, however – what needs to be done right now. We don't know yet. We do know that Uday then says, “I beg to differ.” “To beg (beg) to differ” is an old phrase, a very formal phrase that is used to show that you disagree with another person. “I beg to differ” means I think you're wrong, or I disagree with you.

Emma says, “You can't live in the past.” “To live in the past” is to spend all of your time thinking about things that have happened to you last year, last month, maybe 20 years ago. That would be to live in the past – not to be thinking about your future or even your present, but to be constantly thinking about things that you did many years ago. Emma says, “I know that you like reliving your glory days, but the only way to move on is to let go of the past.” “To relive” means to live again. Really, it means to experience something again or to think about something as if it were happening right now.

“To relive your glory days” would be to continue to think about, or try to do again, the things that you did in your “glory days,” or the days when you were popular or successful. The term “glory days” refers to the best days of your life. There was a song by Bruce Springsteen many years ago called “Glory Days,” about someone who was looking back at the times when he was successful in his life.

Emma says that it's fun to relive your glory days, “but the only way to move on is to let go of the past.” “To move on” means to continue with the future without thinking about things that have happened in the past. Usually we use this expression, this phrasal verb, when something bad has happened to us, and perhaps it's preventing us from moving forward, from continuing with our lives. Your girlfriend decides to break up with you. You need to move on – you need to find another girlfriend who will also, of course, break up with you, but that's not the idea here.

“To move on” means to continue forward with your life without worrying about the past. Emma also uses the expression here “to let go of the past.” “To let go of the past” means something similar: to stop thinking about things that have happened in the past and, instead, to think about your future.

Uday says, “I don't want to move on. If you’ve had the life I’ve had, you’d cling to the past, too.” “To cling” (cling) means to hold tightly onto something. However, here it means to think about your past all the time – not to be able to forget about it. “To cling to your past” would be the opposite of “letting go of your past.” “To let go of” something means to stop holding it, to stop gripping it. Uday doesn't want to let go of the past. He wants to cling to the past.

Emma says, “But your best days are still to come.” Emma is saying that the best things in Uday’s life haven't happened yet, so he should be looking forward to what will happen to him, not thinking about the past. Emma says, “Constantly harking back to days gone by doesn't allow you to live in the moment and to plan for the future.” “To hark (hark) back to” something means to refer to something that happened in the past, to remind you of something that has happened in the past. “Days gone by” is a somewhat poetical way of saying “the past” – things that have already happened.

Emma says that you can't “live in the moment” and “plan for the future” if you are constantly thinking about the past. “To live in the moment” means to live in the present – to think about and focus on what is happening to you right now, not what happened to you yesterday or 10 years ago – and not to think about what will happen even in the future, but instead to think about what is going on in your life right now, at this very minute. Emma is asking Uday to forget about his past and to live in the moment, as well as to plan for the future.

Uday says, “So what? I have my memories to comfort me in my old age.” Uday is saying “So what,” meaning “Why is that important?” What you are saying to me isn’t important. “I have my memories to comfort me.” Your “memories” are things that you remember. “To comfort” means to make you feel calm or relaxed, to feel good about yourself. Uday is saying that he has his memories to comfort him in his old age – as he gets older.

Emma says, “You’re speaking as though your life were over. You're still young.” Uday says, “Not as young as I used to be.” He means he's not as young as he was last year or 10 years ago, which of course is obvious. No one is younger now than they were in the past; that doesn't make any sense. The reason Uday says this is to indicate that he is aware that he is getting older. He is no longer as young as he wants to be.

When someone says, “not as young as I used to be,” it means “I'm old. I don't feel young the way I used to feel young.” I feel that way sometimes. When I have to move some heavy boxes, for example, and the next day my back hurts, I say to myself, “I'm not as young as I used to be.” I try to tell my wife that so that I don't have to move the boxes, but she never listens.

Anyway, Emma says, “These old trophies and football jerseys won't keep you young.” A “trophy” (trophy) is usually an object that looks like a small statue that is given to someone who wins a competition. It is usually tall, made of metal and wood, and has the name of the person who won, or at least the prize that they won. “Trophies” are usually given for big competitions – sporting competitions or other events.

Emma says, “These old trophies and football jerseys won't keep you young.” A “jersey” (jersey) is a shirt that you wear when you are participating in some athletic activity. When you are a member of a sports team, you have team jerseys. They all have the same color, the same design. Typically, jerseys will have numbers on them. That's your number as a player. In my glory days as an 8th grade volleyball player, I had the number 10. That was the number on my jersey. Oh, those were the days.

Emma says the “old trophies and football jerseys” – and here she means American football – “won't keep you young.” You won't become young by keeping these old things. Uday says, “Yes, that's true, but they help me remember some of the highlights of the old days.” “Highlights” are the best or most important moments or parts of some story or some situation.

Uday says, “Did I ever tell you about the time I single-handedly won the game?” Uday is asking Emma if she remembers him telling the story about how, during one game, he “single-handedly” won it. “Single-handedly” means alone, without help from anyone else.

Of course, husbands like to tell their wives stories of their glory days, and usually they tell them many, many times, and I think that's the situation here with Emma. Emma says, “Uh . . . ,” meaning she does know the story and she doesn't really want to hear it again.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Emma: I think it’s time.

Uday: I beg to differ.

Emma: You can’t live in the past. I know that you like reliving your glory days, but the only way to move on is to let go of the past.

Uday: I don’t want to move on. If you’ve had the life I’ve had, you’d cling to the past, too.

Emma: But your best days are still to come. Constantly harking back to days gone by doesn’t allow you to live in the moment and to plan for the future.

Uday: So what? I have my memories to comfort me in my old age.

Emma: You’re speaking as though your life were over. You’re still young.

Uday: Not as young I used to be.

Emma: These old trophies and football jerseys won’t keep you young.

Uday: Yes, but they help me remember some of the highlights of the old days. Did I ever tell you about the time I single-handedly won the game?

Emma: Uh . . .

[end of dialogue]

She single-handedly writes all of the scripts for our episodes. I refer, of course, to the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
it’s time – a phrase used to mean that something must be done now or immediately, not delayed

* Put your shoes on and let’s go. It’s time.

to beg to differ – a formal, old-fashioned phrase used to show that one disagrees with another person

* A: This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen!

B: I beg to differ. Do you remember the one we saw last year that was so bad we walked out of the theater before it had ended?

to live in the past – to spend most or all of one’s time thinking about what has happened before, almost ignoring or not caring about what is happening now or what might happen in the future

* I bet Francine would be a great historian, because she always seems to be living in the past.

to relive – to experience something again, or to think about something so much that it seems as if one were experiencing it again

* How can a married couple relive the days when they were just falling in love?

glory days – the best days of one’s life; a time in the past when thing were very good, commonly thought to have been better than things are now

* Everyone wishes they could return to the glory days before the economic downturn, when everyone had a job and everyone could afford to buy a house.

to move on – to stop thinking about something that happened in the past and begin living one’s life normally again

* Lauralee and Gerald broke up more than six months ago. Don’t you think it’s time for her to move on instead of crying about him all the time?

to let go of the past – to stop thinking about something that happened in the past and begin living one’s life normally again, being interested in what is happening now and in what might happen in the future, and no longer feeling resentment or guilt about what happened in the past

* Jake was a champion skier before the car accident, so he’s having a hard time letting go of the past and accepting the fact that he might never be able to ski again.

to cling – to hold tightly to something and not let go

* The little girl was clinging to her doll and appeared very frightened.

the best days are still to come – a phrase used to show that life will get better and one has things to look forward to

* They’ve been married for 50 years, but they believe that the best days are still to come.

to hark back to – to refer to something that happened in the past

* Wow, this music really harks back to the 1930s, doesn’t it?

days gone by – the past; a time or time period that has already passed

* In days gone by, most children walked to school instead of taking a bus.

to live in the moment – to live in the present; to fully think about and focus on what is happening now, not paying attention to what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future

* Fiona lives in the moment and always seems to have a lot of fun, but I worry that she isn’t planning for her retirement.

memory – something that one remembers from one’s past

* One of my favorite memories is making cookies with Aunt Teresa.

to comfort – to make someone feel calmer, more relaxed, and content, especially when that person was upset or sad

* Julianna seems so upset about the death of her cat. What can we do to comfort her?

trophy – an object given to the winner of an event or competition, usually made of wood or metal with a tall stand and a cup or a decorative figure on top

* Ana received a trophy for winning second prize in the science fair competition.

jersey – a shirt worn by a member of a sports team, with colors and words that identify which team the player is on, and with a number that identifies which player wears that shirt

* Which player is wearing jersey 17?

highlight – the best or most important part of something

* The keynote speaker was one of the highlights of the conference.

single-handedly – alone, without help from anyone else

* When Trenton was hired as the new CFO, he single-handedly turned the company around and helped us start making a profit again.

Comprehension Questions
1. According to Emma, why does Uday need to change?
a) Because he spends all his time thinking about what has happened before.
b) Because he is depressed and never leaves his home.
c) Because he needs to start playing sports again.

2. Which of these things can be worn?
a) A memory.
b) A trophy.
c) A jersey.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to move on

The phrase “to move on,” in this podcast, means to stop thinking about something that happened in the past and begin living one’s life normally again, being interested in what is happening now and in what might happen in the future: “It’s unfortunate that we lost Acme as a client, but now we need to move on and find new clients or we’ll go out of business.” The informal phrases “move it” and “let’s get a move on” are used to tell someone to hurry: “We only have 10 minutes until the concert begins. Move it!” The phrase “to make a move” means to propose something or to take an action: “Gregorio made a move to create a committee to discuss the idea in greater detail.”

highlight

In this podcast, the word “highlight” means the best or most important part of something: “Going to Yosemite National Park was the highlight of our summer.” Or, “I didn’t get to watch the game on TV earlier today, but I’ll try to watch the highlights in the post-game recap this evening.” When talking about beauty, “highlights” are sections of hair that are a lighter color, either because they are exposed to the sun or because one’s hair has been dyed that way: “The hair stylist added some reddish-blond highlights around her client’s face.” A “highlighter” is a pen filled with bright ink that is used to place color over text, but in a way that the text can still be read and receives a lot of attention: “Clarke used a highlighter in his textbook to mark the most important passages and any new vocabulary.”

Culture Note
Famous Sports Trophies

“Athletes” (people who play sports) dream of becoming “champions” (winners), and in many sports that means “earning” (receiving something in recognition of one’s work) a “prized” (valued) trophy or “cup” (a trophy with a cup-like shape on top).

In the United States, the most famous trophies are for football. One of the most famous sports trophies is the Heisman Trophy, which has been “awarded” (given as an honor) to the “MVP” (most valuable player) in college football each year since 1935. The Vince Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the champions of the “NFL” (National Football League) Super Bowl each year.

But there are famous trophies for other sports, too. For example, the “Stanley Cup” is given to the “NHL” (National Hockey League) Stanley Cup Champion. The “MLS Cup” is awarded to the champion of “MLS” (Major League Soccer), the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy is awarded to the “NBA” (National Basketball Association) champion, and the Commissioner’s Trophy is awarded to the “MLB” (Major League Baseball) World Series Champion.

There are also trophies and cups for lesser-popular sports. These include the Champion’s Cup, which is awarded to the National Lacrosse League Champion, and the Kentucky Derby Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the “Kentucky Derby” (an annual horse race). The “most valuable” (worth the most money) trophy is the Woodlawn Vase, which is worth more than four million dollars and is awarded to the winner of the Preakness Stakes, another important horse race.

Winning these trophies and cups is a great honor, and many athletes “dedicate” (commit) their entire life to “attaining” (earning; achieving) these “accolades” (honors).

Comprehension Answers
1 -a

2 - c