“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” ~ Thomas Szasz
There is definitely something important and insightful in Szasz’s statement, but I want to amend it to say:
The stupid neither forgive nor forget;
the naïve forgive and forget;
the wise forgive and – learn.
Because I want to make a case for ‘forgetting’: for allowing a memory to be released from your body, brain, mind and all. I want to make a case for using your organism’s ability to integrate: to not have to remember something, to trap or latch onto a memory, in order to capitalize on the lesson.
One of the benefits of being a living thing is that we can become – in fact, we are in the continual proces of becoming. More than remember, we can become the new insight, understanding, ability, and so on.
We can (and do) integrate learning, growth, adaptations, evolutions, to the extent that they become part of our being – at which point, recordings of the moment or experience are superfluous. If it’s a painful memory, (where at all possible), let it go; and save the storage space for something else. Do yourself that favor. Indeed, the need to remember the story is often just a cover for punishing: yourself and/or the other.
I spend a lot of time with clients releasing painful memories (no doubt body-workers, massage therapists, etc. do the same): releasing trapped moments of time being continously played in the system. As if you needed to make a record, and then constantly replay it, in order to ‘remember’ what you were meant to have learned. You don’t. You can, instead:
A note of caution: be wary of thinking that the lessons you were meant to have learned are things like ‘people are untrustworthy’ – when maybe it was just that person? We have a tendency to generalize, to use induction (e.g. seeing a black crow and concluding from this one instance that all crows are black). Not so helpful in this case because you’ll integrate that understanding, and live in a world where no one is trustworthy – probably including yourself.
Be mindful, too, of the shrines you erect out of loyalty and devotion to your loss/pain/suffering. What is a greater tragedy even than the death or loss or pain we’ve suffered, is that the only thing left to show for it is a monument that reads ‘Brutalized victim lies here.’ or ‘The moment I decided never to try again.’ or, simply, ‘Dumbass.’, which we then ritualistically pray to daily, out of love and devotion to our loss. Why not honor what has died instead by erecting a different shrine: one that makes the death if not worth something, at least not worth nothing. Is it really the best act of love, loyalty and devotion to allow it to have died, been brutalized or victimized, for naught? for a story of unending tragedy which we ultimately end up reliving, through our ritualistic practice, until the end of our time? Q: If you had influence, would you allow what you loved to have died in vain?
Well, you do. And you must believe that you do. If not for the self who has survived the unforgivable act, then for the one who has died.
The last word is not written until you die – physically, all of you. And even then, … who knows? (Not me.) What I do know is that it is possible to make an effort for redemption, and even, to make a promise: that you will do your best to make whatever pain, loss and death suffered not to have been in vain. Definitely learn. But learn too, to:
Especially the painful memories – not the lesson, but the visual; the memory; the cellular trauma. Precisely so that you might be free and powerful enough – i.e. have the resources you need like energy, will, desire, freedom, confidence, self-esteem, money, … – to erect the most glorious and reverent shrine to what you lost. To what you clearly love(d) so dearly that you were willing to sacrifice the quality of the rest of your entire life for it.
This, so far as I can see, is what it would mean to do it for love. And out of love. And ultimately, no doubt, what it means to love.