Saturday, July 11, 2009

Letting Go...

Peonies
William Merritt Chase
1903

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.

32 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

Forgiveness is great, but you have to be careful not to forgive to quickly or easily because if you do, some people will take advantage of you because they know that you will be quick to forgive. Kinda like being used as a doormat. I will usually forgive someone once for a digression, but if they do it again....forgiveness does not come so easily.

Regarding the way things were in the past compared to now...oh my! Things weren't as easy or convenient in the past as they are now, but I also see that it was easier to finish jobs without the distractions we have now...like blogs for instance. ;-)

Honestly, I used to be able to get the housework done, yard work, take care of the kids, make great dinners and work a part time job. Now, I'm lucky to get the housework done and throw together a last minute meal before hubby gets home. The computer is too much of a temptation, which is why I've cut back on my blogging and visiting in the last month or so.

Mary Ellen said...

Not "to quickly"....but "too" quickly. Sorry for the typo. If you find any more...please forgive me!!! ;-)

Russell said...

Well, not often I can be FIRST on one of your posts, so here goes! But perhaps there will be 3 comments by the time this is submitted!

Wonderful advice. I often tell people "let it go" when they are dealing with things that have happened to them.

I am reminded of the movie starring Robert Redford called Unfinished Life. It is truly a life lesson as well as a very good movie.

In that movie, Redford's character is dealing with the loss of his son by drinking. But through the help of a granddaughter he did not even know he had, he is able to let go.

Once he begins to live again he becomes a different person. Life is meant to be lived. Great post!

Russell said...

Well... I came in third! Heh! But Mary Ellen is a wonderful person to follow!!

Judi said...

That's so....healthy, Jo:) I too think it is much easier to live in the present. Another great post and ideas to ponder.

Alissa said...

I wouldn't consider not being able to live in the past a problem at all. I would much rather live in the present.

By the way, I think The Langoliers was the most frightening book I ever read. I read it in my teens and it gave me nightmares for weeks. Go figure, since I think the monster and ax murderer Stephen King books are generally considered to be the the scarier fare.

jeannette stgermain said...

Beautiful painting, Jo! Yes, I remember carbon paper, but even worse were typing letters on non-electric type-writers!! Back in those days (in Holland at least) one took typing LESSONS!
The past is like the present - the good and the ugly, but..I am much wiser and confident now.

DUTA said...

People nowadays seem to be more concerned about the Future. They do live in the present and do not ignore the past, but their thoughts, feelings and plans revolve around the future,which doesn't look very bright with all this global warming, shaky economy, and spread of nuclear power.

SweetPeaSurry said...

I love this post Jo, and you're so right! Moving forward is always best, living in the past doesn't get one anywhere!

Although, given my druthers I think I'd like to be about 14 forever. *winks*

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You are so right about forgiving. It is balm for the forgiver, not the forgiven. Forgetting is not necessary to forgive. I doubt any of us can really forget an act that made forgiving necessary.

Those memories help us learn.

Marguerite said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one, Jo. I know so many people who live in the past. They seem to relish holding on to old slights and just love reminding the perpetrator about them. What happened 10 or 20 years ago should stay there. And you are also right about the poison chemicals that circulate in the body and make people physically ill. I live in the present with an eye towards the future. Great post!

Deb said...

The past has a way of becoming front and center in ones life. Believe me, I know this to be true. I've spent many a good hard earned dollar to try to let moments of time surfact in my own head. With all that said, I realized that the brain can push the past way deep down so not to trouble us. I have learned to let the past go, but actually living by that rule is yet another subject.
As for foregiveness, I have forgiven those that have hurt me deeply and to the core. But I cannot forgive myself. Go figure?
Life is strange....and too short.

Kathryn said...

Just for the record, The Langoliers was a short story in the Stephen King book Four Past Midnight which had 4 novelettes.

I so totally agree with you that forgiveness is for us, not the other person. It isn't until we are able to forgive that we are able to "let go" & move on. Until that point we continue to relive the whatever by holding tightly to the hurt.

That said, i tend to be an obsessive person & letting go is not easy for me. I know it is for some people, but i do have to work at it.

As well, even when forgiven, somethings still continue to influence us from the past. My views of other people, my view of life & how it will treat me, oh, so many other things are effected by my past experiences. My mother was not an emotionally healthy person & many of the things she taught still shadow how i see the world today. My head rejects much of that, my brain tells me that it is not so, but i still have to fight with my heart & emotions to make those changes.

Maybe if i was more like you these things wouldn't influence me so. But i am who i am. I have some control over things & how i choose to view them. But i still can be touched by those things from the past.

Mean Mama said...

I'm with Mary Ellen on not forgiving twice..Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Experience should be a teacher. "Don't touch the hot stove!" and when the partner cheats...send em packing!

I've always kept mementos, especially things my kids made by hand.
I also take lots of pictures and I look through them. I wonder if that keeps me linked in an unhealthy way to the past.

robert said...

Good morning Jo,
that's why one feels glad to bow in respect of your writing.
Still try to figure out where the figures of my life should be placed. Until now enjoy it most of the time, only when the tip of the pencil breaks, it gets a bit bumpy.
Please have a nice weekend.

Patty said...

I so agree with you.

pilgrimchick said...

Although I agree that the past is the past, I do think it is important to understand how your past shaped who you are. Only then is it possible to grow as a person.

Brenda said...

I do save everything and get all sappy when I go through the kids things. Stuff like that helps me remember. We will soon be having to get rid of a lot of those things and I expect it may be freeing to some degree.
I get what you were talking about though. People who hold on to the past too much, especially negative things are in a sad shape.
I live in the "now" for the most part. It is so much healthier!

nomore said...

" Life is to be Enjoy " ...I agree with you about it...And i think its the great words that the " Most fortunate people are the ones who have figured it out...."
Nice pictures...i can suppose it from the Butterfly....Nice blog and posts...

lovelyprism said...

I hate it when Kathy gets here first and says exactly what I would have said! I do love her though, our opinions rarely differ.

pranksygang said...

you are right! We find peacefulness in life if we simply leave the past in its place and start living a new life everyday and enjoy every minute we have in hand.. an inspiring post!

meggie said...

Absolutely agree with you Jo. I also believe people who have wronged us, need to forgive themselves. Forgiveness is not always ours to give.

Thiea Arantxa said...

A great post! I agree with your perspective about the past. Don't push yourself to be 'as good as yesterday', just let life show what's best for you.

the walking man said...

When you forgive, you are saying to the other person "it's alright, we can continue on as before as if nothing happened."

Are you able to forgive this completely?

Owen said...

The instant a camera shutter clicks, the photo is already in the past, yet as much as I enjoy living in the present, and am forward looking, part of the present (for me anyway) involves spending a certain amount of time looking at photos, and thinking about that past moment, seeking understanding found in those moments... but I basically agree completely... the here and now, the razor's edge, is where we are, and all we have... to idolize the past at the expense of living in the present moment is probably not healthy, although I love the feel that many old or ancient objects have, old carved stones, and I like to try to imagine what the stone carver felt centuries ago when he or she chiseled away... while dreaming of a more distant past perhaps... or dreaming of the future cathedral he was building...

Love your posts, thought provoking every time ! A happy Sunday to you Jo :-)

PhilipH said...

I agree that it is pointless to hold grudges, so let them go. But I have no wish to let go of much of my past. I have too many happy and loving experiences that will never fade.

Yes, we all have to live through today; tomorrow will take care of itself.

But there are so many people and times in my yesteryears that must and will stay alive for me.

Land of shimp said...

Grudges, bitterness, hatred, all of those negative feelings hurt us far, far more than the people against whom we might hold them.

I believe it was Gandhi who said that hatred was like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

A lot of negative things are like that.

Paula Slade said...

Although I admit I enjoy reminiscing - I leave the baggage behind and recall the journey.

Kimberly said...

I live in the past...and my past prevents me from loving or being loved 100%. That is my choice and I am the one that has to live with it.

Hilary said...

I think this is one of your best posts ever. All logical, all reasonable.. and well-said. You're entirely right, of course.

Lorna said...

Fri, Jul 17, 2009 01:22 AM PST



~Lorna
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