How do you come to terms with the past? It’s a question that has slowly crystallised in my mind in retirement, as the memory of my teaching life slowly fades and I think about the things that the preoccupying business of work pushed aside. How do I settle these memories and move on to the last part of my life? (And I DO know that it’s all a new adventure and new opportunity.)
So I did what any self-respecting modern person does. I looked it up on the internet. On Dogpile, not Google, just to be different.
After ads for paste recipes (wot???) and “Karmic readings” (don’t you dare invade my privacy by reading my Karma, thank you), there was a Yahoo answers entry for coming to terms with sad memories (not entirely what I was looking for) and then a prayer (ditto). The third result was a Wikipedia entry on “time”, believe it or not.
Time- according to Wikipedia- “is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession”.
Irreversible, eh? Well, I suppose that means that the past is done with- has gone. It all puts me in mind of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Now, I don’t know what status, literary or otherwise, this has in the modern world, although the very well-read Ms Oblique #1 was not aware of it. It is a collection of the poetry said to have been written by Omar Khayyam a thousand years ago, translated by Edward FitzGerald. It was popular when I was younger, possibly due to its easily-remembered philosophy, in verses such as:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
The NEXT result on my search was, intriguingly, a Wikihow entry on ‘How to Leave the Past Behind (with Pictures)’. With pictures! Wow, that’s got to be worth a look.
Before I looked, I had one of those moments of sudden realisation. I don’t want to leave the past behind- Wikipedia and Omar Khayyam have made it clear that the past IS behind. So what do I mean? I suppose I’m saying that I don’t like how the past affects my present; how it has negative effects in the present. I don’t want to forget it, but I want it not to be always in my thoughts, with all its regrets, resentments and echoes. Is that possible?
A brief summary of this website’s advice is:
Acknowledge the challenges of the past.
Accept that you cannot change what happened, only how you view it
Try meditation or yoga
Keep a journal
Spend time with other people
Seek professional help
This is great advice, although I don’t think I’d go to the extreme of professional help. Bullet points, however, are not sufficient to encapsulate what would be a long process. It is well worth looking up:
How to Leave the Past Behind
Or you could just be a Taoist and exist in the here and now. If only…..
Well, that’s telling you how to come to terms with the past, or, more intriguingly, “with terns to the past”, which was my original typo. I put it in the title just to entice you to read it. Sorry.
Perhaps I should stick to the paste recipes.
Omar Khayyam picture: original uploader was Atilin at French Wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]