I can’t bring back the dead or fix broken dreams, but I can let go of the pain, forgive the past,
and forgive myself.
Clinging to the past, to the people who no longer play a role in my life, to dwell on mistakes and failures is like volunteering to remain imprisoned in a cell, torturing myself unnecessarily when I have the key to the lock in my pocket.
Are you like me, who tends to think and re-think (over-think) episodes of your life over and over, dwelling on the “what-ifs” and “could’ve-beens” instead of chanting “let go and move on”? Trust me, I am learning to undo 50 years of that and it most certainly won’t happen overnight. We harbour a self-destructive tendency to build altars for people and places that have hurt us so deeply that we forget what the past is all about – a teacher for the present and a distant relative of the future, but nothing more.
My soul yearns to be free again, to be unburdened from the guilt, the anger, and the frustration of having digressed from a plan that was made for another lifetime. I can’t read maps, and have no interest in doing so, much to the chagrin of all my travel companions who can and insist on doing so. My motto is to get lost on purpose, to savour the flexibility of a digression. So what if I took the long way around, or walked in the wrong direction? I can always turn back or keep going to see what the new path has in store for me. I never get lost, I just get caught up in an alternative route! Living life by the book leads to frustration and has prevented me often enough from soaking in the newness of things around me, to be mindful of details and nuances. Adaptability and flexibility are key tools to any form of survival.
I miss my parents terribly during Christmas, and this year is the third Christmas without them. Each time I put up the tree, all the decorations conjure memories of them, beautiful moments of my childhood and youth. When they moved from the big house to the small apartment during Daddy’s illness and final confinement, we put up a smaller tree and bought new decorations, because all the old ones she had already passed on years ago so that my daughter could enjoy them. Mommy sensed that they would no longer be around for much longer, so she instructed me to buy native Filipino decorations that I could be proud of anywhere in the world and always be reminded of my heritage. I followed this to the letter and shed tears each time I decorate.
But there was something missing.
I craved for the decorations of my youth that she had sewn with her own hands in the company of a sewing group in Mexico. These had remained in a huge untouched box that I didn’t bother to sort out during the separation. Lo and behold, thanks the generosity (of time and spirit) and kind heart of two people, the decorations found their way back to me a couple of months ago. I hid them in the basement along with the other decorations and, to be honest, forgot all about them until the other night, when the cats and I were watching a movie and admiring the lights. So I ran to find that special bag of Mommy’s decorations and added them to the tree. Oh how my soul rejoiced! That was exactly what I needed – special memories of the past to remind me to be grateful for the time I had with them, for everything I learned – good and bad – and for the strength to be in the present.
Life isn’t easy and no journey is authentic without the pain mixed with the joy of discovery. The secret is to figure out that the logic of the mind is the instrument that guides, a manual if you want to call it that, but the true compass is the soul. Prayer is my sail, and writing my paddles.