“Light thinks it travels faster than anything, but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds that darkness has always gotten there first, and is waiting for it.”
–Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
How often do you stay up late in the night and contemplate, weighing situations in your head that were in no way under your control? Studies reveal that it is very natural to muse on whatever has happened in the past. But different people have different ways to look at it. Some look at it nostalgically, wishing they could relive the days of yore. Others choose to mope and let themselves repine over what has already happened.
We’re not defined by our tragedies
Etymologically, ‘past’ is something that has passed. For the majority of us, it might have held a crucial place in our heads and hearts. It is believed that past is our greatest strength, tragedy and all, because it’s what defines us. But come to think of it, that’s not true- not exactly.
We’re not defined by our tragedies or our turning points. We’re defined by the choices we make in the face of them. We’re defined by how we choose to react to being challenged. That’s the funny part. When we’re in that moment, it doesn’t seem all that pleasant. Just when it passes, do we realize how excruciatingly beautiful it was. But nobody said it was all about rainbows and butterflies. We’ve had to deal with our share of obnoxious recollections as well.
Thoughts cause no problems
A memory is a thought, and a thought has no power or meaning whatsoever, unless you give it power or meaning. You have many thoughts about things that happened long ago, and these thoughts cause no problems. But some thoughts are sticky. You have an emotional reaction to them and you think them over and over. You may even have beliefs related to them, for example, “I am justified in thinking this” or “I need an apology so I can move on.” This keeps them very much alive, affecting your ongoing experience. Don’t let that feeling take the better of you.
As the quote rightly states, “For what has been, thanks”
Whether we chose to focus on the painful or the joyful memories, we can give thanks to ALL that happened. It may take time. Everything that happens is information for us to be aware of. All that happens is part of who we are and shapes us. It influences our current and future being.
There is a grace to welcoming the open-heartedness and enthusiasm of life that comes with making peace with the past. I accept it without regrets. I accept it unconditionally because, as I have learnt through my own experiences, what breaks you, makes you. It has not only strengthened me but also made me who I am today. Learn to appreciate it. Just like you’re grateful for the blessings in your life, learn to be thankful for the way life has unfolded itself.
You have to feel. You have to love. Risk your heart. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.
Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.