Perfect Autumn day in Eastern Oregon, almost sixty degrees, intermittent rains Off for the day, a few small chores, a nice long yack with a great friend, short nap, a few more chores and then a bowl of hot soup (homemade, thank you very much) with croutons AND potato chips floating in it (deeply decadent, thank you) and then a fire in the stove and the 3rd game of the World Series on the radio via computer. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what.
As conversations with good friends often do, we roamed afield and at one point a mention was made about feeling guilty about the past, or shame, or deep irreconcilable regret. My sense is that they are good functional feelings and point something out to us, usually that something needs to change, something needs to be looked at and acted upon.
Merely seeing and acknowledging a shameful, guilt producing or regretful, even deplorable act, is usually not sufficient. One needs to look with compassion and often, in my case, seek advice and take refuge with people whom I trust to listen carefully and give good, if painful and sometimes difficult, insight and advice.
My experience is that being at peace with the past does not mean that those uncomfortable memories or feelings don’t arise, and when they do, I should feel something. I should feel that there is more to learn about myself and then, most importantly, I have to be willing to learn more. That process is very personal. It does generally partake of compassion and being still within those feelings. Perhaps seeing that the beginning of acceptance is our pain, remorse, regret, etc; which then opens the door to sadness. Recurring, and at times wrenching sadness. Weeping snot-running sadness. Howling whimpering sadness. The kind of sadness that makes The Blues lighten things up a bit.
Over time sadness seems to convert into a feeling of sensing that everyone experiences it and there is nothing going wrong. It keeps coming but can change into an understanding of the deeper grief that is a major aspect of human life. This is where acceptance blossoms for me. I am experiencing nothing unique, yet within there is a feeling of unique-ness to it, but the general feeling or experience is basically universal.
All of that is neither good, nor bad. It is the experience of everyone. Nothing to discard, get rid of or tinker with and fix. It may need help though.
Certainly there are often things associated with past mistakes we have to address in a practical way, but there is usually nothing we can Fix in any real fashion. To see that and perceive the mystery of it is a big part of acceptance, and an on-going teaching for our own good, for the rest of our lives. What is being accepted is not a sense of futility, but rather the deeper sense that one must go very carefully in responding to the big mistakes we make; or others make.
We will reap consequence and we can be grateful when that time comes, perhaps even see the connection.
Big picture complexity
Takes forever to work
Its way out, and we have
A part to play, or not. The
Choice is always in front of
Us. No need to cringe at, or
Fear, non-movement, at all.
The being-ness of staying still is
The answer when the past tracks
Mud through our pristine dream.
The Aging of Wisdom: keep opening up, keep examining with curiosity and welcoming surprises.
Beautifully written, Helmut.
This is where the TSA has a role to play…no, not those guys…its an acronym I made up for what to do what the tidal wave of MY PAST (oh no, not those memories again!) threatens to overwhelm. T for Take Refuge, S for Surrender (the Flow flows without my hand on its tiller) and Accept. Helps me anyway.
Hope your regrets do not get in the way of enjoying the golden cottonwoods and tamaracks.
Thanks for being so honest and open in your posts, Helmut. It helps me to be less of the covert sneak my own sense of guilt often leads me to be.