William Merritt Chase
One of my biggest problems is that I have never been able to live in the past. I am not a collector of memorabilia. I don't save ticket stubs or mementoes of any kind. The past is the past. I once read a book by Stephen King called "The Langoliers". A group of ten people on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston are caught in a time warp, and are living four minutes in the past. Everything is colorless, food is tasteless, and the passengers are trapped in a deadened, lifeless world of a past timestream. The Langoliers' job was to erase moments in time that have already passed into history. That is how I feel about the past. It is the past. All of us have a past, and we have good memories and perhaps not so good memories. But that is really all they are -- memories. We live in the present. The past is gone -- gobbled up by the Langoliers. The past should stay in the past.
I have difficulty understanding people who are so entrenched in the past, they have lost the ability to live in the present. I know so many people are like that, and I don't understand it. I work with people who are always bemoaning the fact that "Things were so much better here 25 years ago." Well, no they weren't. Does anyone remember carbon paper? It was unforgiving. But these folks are convinced that the past was better. Of course, things always look better -- or worse -- from the distance of several years.
People will often hold onto negative things from the past as well, and this is where the concept of forgiveness comes in. I struggle with forgiveness all the time, but thankfully because I do not hold onto the past, I am able to let go of things. Forgiveness is not for the individual who has harmed us, but rather it is for us -- the forgiver. When we forgive, we are able to let go of the negative feelings -- anger and resentment -- that create poisonous chemicals that flow through our bodies. When we hold onto these feelings, the only people we are harming is ourselves. These chemicals can kill us. We cannot be responsible for the things that people do to us, but we can take responsibility for how we let them affect us. We can also make sure that we do not perpetuate the damage done to us. We can just let it go.
I believe life is to be enjoyed. We all deserve a measure of happiness and serenity. We are the only ones who can give that to ourselves. No one else. The most fortunate people are the ones who have figured that out.