When the present accommodates the past, joyfully . . .

I’ve been revisiting parts of my past life, off and on quite consistently over these last few years. Many times it’s with a groan of recrimination, a ‘wish I could have done better’ feeling. This morning, thanks to an intriguing series of notes from my brothers, I’m learning that forgiveness is a two way street for oneself: if you can forgive the slings and arrows of the slights and betrayals from others, surely you can try to forgive yourself for your own mis-judgements.

Life has such twists and turns. My perception of yesterday’s reality is coloured by my current outlook, and it’s easy to forget the various parameters of what motivated the decisions in the past. But when the past intrudes immediately into your present, you’re forced to move on, to incorporate those awkward events into your now.

I don’t know if I could accommodate, cheerfully, the various thieves who stole parts of my life, who forced us into a different take on how to live in changed circumstances. The fact that I don’t have to is neither here nor there. I suspect that these bleak black holes may not be reconcilable even now. There are such fulcrum points in life, aren’t there? You can’t grow old without experiencing some. But my brother relates how one such experience has turned around and gnashed its teeth at him, in his current workplace.

The fact that he can, somehow and with good grace, accommodate the past betrayal, and move on now to share the present with the concern that blighted his past, says so much more about his maturity and wisdom than I would ever have countenanced. Our father, otherwise a saintly soul, could not really find the capacity to forgive his enemies, though he always professed to (preacher, listen to your sermons, we might remark!). And yet his sons are learning how to do just that. Well, one or two of them, anyway.

I still have a long way to go on that road to self-discovery. But perhaps, in the simple recognition that real forgiveness can bring joy into a life that’s otherwise blighted by recrimination, it’s possible, isn’t it, that this realisation in and of itself can be salutary, a beacon to work harder.

And the joy of working harder is something that I do know how to accommodate.

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