I don’t know how you are in the area of memory function, of recalling specific memories from the past. Well, okay, every memory is from the past. Duhh. For me, although I probably couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday, I can easily remember things that were done or said to me sixty years ago. I can even remember the circumstances and could describe some events from those moments in great detail to you.
Fortunately for you, you probably don’t have any interest in or reason to hear detailed descriptions of things from my past, and I’m not here to share those with you. You get enough of that if you have ever read one of my books. One way or another, those things always seem to come through in my writing, whether it is fiction or non.
Unfortunately, for me, and perhaps for you, the things remembered most vividly are nearly always the most negative things. The hurtful words or actions of others, whether relatives, employers, or ‘friends’ always seem to stick in the mind the most. (Being pierced is more permanent than being only bumped, I suppose.) It just seems much easier to forget some good time experienced than some cruel or thoughtless statement or action of another. Likewise, our own negative actions are usually remembered more vividly by us than some good thing we might have done.
Recently, though, and several times now, I have been reminded that living in the past, or spending too much time dwelling on thoughts from the past is not at all a healthy way to be. One recent evening I just could not get some old hateful memories of things said by old, hateful people, out of my thoughts, and it made that evening a miserable one for me, and for my wife. For that, I am truly sorry.
I need to get my ‘forgetter’ into gear when it comes to those things. I’m not exactly sure how you do that, but I need to try. One suggestion, by a dear nephew of mine, would be to, in his words, “Unc, you need to adjust your give-a-‘blank’ button.” I do get that point. It’s just not an easy thing to do. Besides, it’s hard to not care.
At our church last Sunday we were reminded of the idea of forgetting the past, as verse 13 of the book of Philippians, chapter 3, was read: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” There the Apostle Paul was reminding us how important it is to look to the future, not the past. (And he did have quite a past.)
Another time this week I was reminded to forget, if I can, the hateful words of others from the past. This is done through true forgiveness, which is something else I need to work on. What happened is that somewhere online I read a short but profound quote from some unknown (to me) but very wise person. The quote was simply this: “Forgiveness is giving up on the idea of having a better past.” Think about that.
So, let us forgive, to have a better future.