Moving on – The testimony of Life
A wise man was a participating in a conversation. He contributed by telling the group a joke. All those present were highly amused and appreciated the humor. After a while, he narrated the same joke again. This time the response was more tempered. After some time, he repeated it. . There was hardly any response this last time around and people were, in fact, slightly irritated. When he told the same joke yet again after a few minutes, one of the persons in the group retorted “Why are you repeating the joke so often? It now ceases to
\amuse us and we are getting irritated”, The wise man responded-“ If the same joke ceases to amuse us after a couple of repetitions, why then does the repeated remembrance of something painful elicit equal or sometimes higher degrees of sorrow and resentment?”
The way a person deals with unpleasantness in the past influences largely, his .attitude and approach to dealing with the present. Carrying too much emotional baggage certainly does not augur well and could affect the person’s self-esteem embarking on a self deprecatory behaviour. He is convinced that he is at the root of all the misfortunes that have befallen him and will mope and indulge in an unforgiving criticism of himself. The already low levels of self esteem ebb even further and makes the person very sceptical and cynical.
The embers of all unpleasant memories get fanned by self- pity and self -criticism to keep burning. It is akin to being a jury at one’s own trial., and about being obsessive about fixing the blame rather than the problem. Moving on with life after an unsavoury incident requires one to relegate the event as one out of the limitless possible outcomes.
Que sera sera - whatever will be, will be. Reminiscing and Reacting to the past is as futile as attempting to resuscitate a corpse. Most people try and strive to uproot the weeds of unpleasant memories. This is not possible as selective amnesia is still in the domain of science fiction. The memories will remain and one needs to let them. It is far more important not to be reactive about the long buried past and use that as a scale to measure oneself. The past should never be empowered enough to affect the present. Passing a verdict about oneself based entirely on the events of the past deals a body blow to growth and development. Such a verdict is like putting on blinds that force one to view the present with self-imposed imaginary limitations. It would be very egoistic to implicate oneself and hold one entirely responsible for any event or decision taken in the past. Every event is the outcome of a complex factors most of which are not entirely predictable or controllable. Such indulgence converts a person from a possibility thinker to a probability thinker. The possibility thinker is very positive and has faith in himself believing that any dream is possible. The probability thinker, in contrast, is a sceptical individual teeming with self-doubt and fearing the probability of failure.
A farmer had a couple of horses that he used for tilling his land. They would be tied the whole day to plough the field or draw water \from the well to irrigate the fields. At night the farmer would leave the rope tied round their necks but never bothered to tie the other end. It was free. A n onlooker enquired “ Why don’t you tie the other end ? Wont the animal run away?”
The farmer replied “ The end round their necks is enough to make them believe that they are captive. They are convinced that the other end is secured.”
The unsavoury memories of the past should not become such convictions that bind us and restrict our freedom to evolve and grow.
Memories of events should serve to navigate the present rather than end up being an instrument of self accusation.
The present has to be treated like a ‘present’, a . gift that should never be vitiated by the festering past. Like the wise man said , “...at hsome point we ought to get bored and refractory to the nightmares of the past and wake up to dream about the wonderful future that beckons us.”
Dr Deepak M. Ranade
Thpe author is a Consultant Neurosurgeon