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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Living in the Past

I am not pleased with many parts of my past. I realize I am bound by time and space, so I have found it impossible to change ugly past circumstances. And, I do not want to relive or confront old mistakes after I feel I have overcome them and filed them away as potentially positive learning experiences. Indeed, a little hardening of my heart to prevent further investigations has made me more cynical about some things. I do carry these scabs of regret though, but I have softened my heart to other concerns I deem important. Maybe the trade-offs are to satisfy me; still, they do occur. I have forced my memory to forget many struggles by suppressing bad memories and the suppression has dulled my senses to some issues. If someone really wants to hurt another person, he can effectively scape away at a scab of the healing heart, open the old wound, and let it flow anew as degradation releases the fresh blood of sorrow and regret. This new probe into an old mistake may cause the past injury to remain open and fester until it infects the spirit and destroys any hope of recovery. Words can and do hurt, and some words should never be repeated. To use words as weapons of destruction is very effective, especially when these words carry explosive connotations from past engagements. Often, these conversations become war zones full of foreseen dangers and hidden traps. How many casualties of such conflicts have littered the battlegrounds? True, I cannot forget the unsavory parts of my past and I carry their scars, but I expect those closest to me to forgive me as I have them. In addition, I truly hope my friends can respect me and refrain from browbeating me with my past when new conflicts inevitably occur. At 58, I am definitely still a work in progress, some would say a rather flawed one at that. When I can't look beyond someone's past, I re-examine the fair share of the damage I have inflicted upon them, look and pray for answers, and try to make a decision about the future of our relationship. If the indiscretions are insurmountable, I hope to at least be honest, tell my friend my feelings, and part on good terms. Ideally, we both forget about our shared painful memories and continue to live meaningful lives, scarred but newly forgiven. The bottom line for me is that the past is gone, paved over for the better. Winston Churchill put it this way: "If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future." The future is all we really have to enjoy anyway. Many times, redemption lies just around the corner. If we keep walking, we may step a new direction and find what we need.
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