I see. So in the case of, say, Brooks: he puts a knife to Hayward's throat, says, "The world went and got itself into a dam hurry" and "I try to keep up (bagging groceries) but my hands hurt" and "I have dreams sometimes like I'm fallin'" and he feeds the birds hoping Jake the crow will show up. Red says on the inside Brooks was a somebody, but out there he was just an old con.
I know you know all this - I'm just trying to wrap my head around how exactly Brooks is using his Past to measure his progress towards being Concerned about his Future. Obviously he feels he HAS no future, that's why he hangs himself.
But how is his Past being used to measure his progress. Maybe I'm being too literal? I can sort of see the gist of it, but I'm getting hung up on the words "benchmark" and "measure." Sorry if I'm being dense on something that should be obvious.