“Remember the lesson and forget the details”

For years I suffered a continuous tale of woe running through my mind.  The constant drone of the itty bitty shitty committee that had take up residence between my ears.

If I didn’t like what was going on in my life it was ALWAYS someone else’s actions that caused it.  Sure, I had had my share of people doing or saying things to me that felt awful.  I am no different from anyone else.  I have suffered less than some, more than some and have made others suffer FAR more than I want to think about.


So one day, when I felt particularly lousy, I wrote in my journal a list of all the painful things that had happened to me.  Next I wrote all the awful things I had done to others.  Finally, in a different coloured pen, I wrote out all the lessons I had learned from each of these experiences.  This was surprisingly helpful.  I began to see that my suffering had yielded some wisdom.  Hmmm.  Maybe it was all part of a life “curriculum”?  It gave me hope that my suffering and the pain I had caused others, could someday mean something.

But it didn’t help me feel better.  I felt worse than before and now I had a detailed list of all my failures and grief on paper!

Then I heard a loving voice in my head say: “Remember the lesson and forget the details”.  I know that was not my voice because I rarely spoke lovingly to myself at that time.

Forget what happened?  Forget who did what to whom?  Forget what was said?  Forget how it felt?  WHAT?  Who is this speaking anyway?  Have you not been paying attention?  Can’t you see all the “evidence” in this journal?  Did you miss the tears rolling down my face or the stabs of pain in my heart?  Who the hell are you anyway?

“If you want to feel better, remember the lesson and forget the details” it said.  That voice was kind; but unyielding.

It took a while, but I got it.

So I looked again at the list of lessons I had learned and slowly came to feel grateful for them.  I purposely did not focus on the characters in the “play” or my guilt or regret.  It was all I really could do.  Because all of it was in the past and I couldn’t change it.  I had only one choice:  remember the lesson.  I made a decision that day to put my past in the past but bring the lessons with me into my present.  I released the details.

Like many of you I have read, “Don’t live in the past, you only have the present.”  I understand what the hundreds of writers meant by that statement.  I myself have said the same statement to others.   It always felt inadequate.  Always felt like I was short changing someone or something.  I could never put my finger on it but now I understood.  There is a reason why we remember things.  It is because we are meant to remember.  And we have a choice on how we remember it.  No other living creature has this ability.

I ripped the list of transgressions out of my journal.  I lit a candle and prayed for forgiveness to all the people I had hurt in my life.  And I believe, at some level, they heard me.  I looked at my life lessons and for once, treasured them.  They are precious to me now.

My load became lighter.

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