If I could utter just two words for my whole life I would say, “Never forget.”
Never forget anything or anyone. Any experience that changes you has already left an inerasable impression on you, which is the cause for the way you are after it has passed. Any person who touches you has left their signature on your life.
I find that increasingly more and more people believe that ‘forgetting’ is a way to progress. We are surrounded by self-help books, new age gurus, psychiatrists, talk shows, tabloid columnists and of course our indispensable friends and family. All of whom pour into our lives such thoughts as “Put it behind you.”, “Behave like nothing happened.”, “Its the past, it doesn’t matter any more.”
Oh, but I’d like to say, it does…it matters a whole lot. When someone says “The past doesn’t matter”, I hear his attitude speak “This interaction and you don’t matter. This present will someday become the past and no matter what you mean now, tomorrow the memory of you will be in my trash can.”
The past is as rungs on the ladder that we’ve climbed to come to where we are. How can we just wish them away? And visualize it, does it make sense to do that? Suppose just suppose, wishing could make it true….and you’d find yourself hanging in mid-air minus ladder and rungs. Are we like cartoon characters then, who, as long as they don’t realise it, are not affected by gravity?
Back to ground zero. Which is why I say, never forget. Keep the ladder metaphor in mind. A ladder isn’t meant for standing on and admiring the view from mid-way. Its meant to reach you somewhere. So put your foot up and climb to the next one. Just don’t chop off the rungs that you’ve stepped on before you got to this place. Because as you climb higher, the rungs get steeper and more further away. And that’s when you count on your old experience to tell you how to reach the next rung.
Also every now and then you get to some place you think you cannot possibly take one step more. At that time remember what it was to take another step perhaps not so very long ago, and keep going on.
Is it just about learning from experience then? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. Its about acknowledging each and every moment of life and giving it its due.
Never forget a compliment. Nothing can bring a smile to your face quicker than the memory of a nice word.
Never forget an insult. Nothing charges you to push your limits better than the memory of someone challenging you that you can’t.
Never forget a bad intention or emotion. Greed, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust, gluttony…the seven deadly sins. A million other shades have been generated by the creative human mind to portray the ugliness of humanity. These exist and its not realistic to expect otherwise. Protect yourself, remember all human beings are capable of them and remember that you are a human being too.
Never forget a good deed. Kindness, patience, empathy, inspiration….each of these come from the same human mind that the negative ones come from. And if the worst can be what we know it is, just think of what the other extreme may be like. These exist too, even if you see them very rarely. Don’t reject the idea, if they didn’t exist, the world as we see it wouldn’t exist.
Of course there is that which we just have to let go of. Traveling light is a good idea but traveling inadequately prepared isn’t. The distinction to make is just that. What to carry and what to discard…what constitutes baggage and what is just ‘lessons’? I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t have so much material to sift through, which is what gave rise to these pearls of wisdom in the first place. I guess like our houses and office desks, our minds and lives need cleaning out every now and then too.
It is about being sentimental too, isn’t it? Yes, why not? What do we have left at the end of our lives but a handful of memories?
Why only at the end…at every single minute of our lives, what is it that we really have, as our own, that truly belongs to us, is a part of us…but our memories? “I wish I could forget everything that has happened so far” may not be such a great wish after all. Imagine the plight of someone who has no memories to fall back on…..what is such a person but a face without the expression?
A blank slate may be very inspiring. But then again, our lives aren’t blank slates that we start writing the minute we are born. Rather, in the world of that metaphor our lives are about learning how to create the slate, the chalk, figuring out the best way to hold it and then what to write, how to write it and how to fit it all in.
We are the sum total of all that we have thought, felt, said and done in every moment of our existence. Why would anybody want to diminish themselves by forgetting? That is why I say….never forget. Don’t ever forget.