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Over our long lives, we all face some moments that scar us deeply and leave black memories.
My oldest memory as a 2 year-old is that of a death in the family – I was scared then and that is perhaps the reason that I still remember it.
Nature has made it such that our dark events remain with us for very long – maybe it is a mechanism that forces us to see parallels when a similar situation arises again and then to choose a different path.
Maybe that is how nature intended it.
Then, contradicting that innate nature is the saying we hear all the time “Forgive and Forget”.
I can understand that we ought to forgive – but what that means exactly I’ve never understood.
Does it mean that “Oh its okay that you did a bad thing to me and I’m okay with it” or does it mean that “I hate what you did but I love you anyway so I will pretend that it did not happen and that magically you will turn into a better person tomorrow”. Am truly confused about what is expected of us when we are meant to say “I forgive you”.
But, there are plenty of other ways to turn the situation and ethos around and making the atmosphere livable again.
One trick is to lick your wounds and engage in something else altogether so that there’s a distance between the said painful event and your own life, making the event appear minor and inconsequential. If it is possible this is a great route.
Another trick is to remind myself of the times I myself have behaved terribly and especially so to the person I was required to forgive and then feel like the accounts have been squared off. Works best with siblings. In this case too this is not the same as forgiving (at least not according to how I understand it).
The best trick of all, is best used with people we will continue to be associated with and cannot just run away from.
In such cases I use a walking stick on my journey into the future.
What do I mean? Use the support of new events lived together. Create fresh memories that will cover up the old ones that are black. Use that walking stick of new meetings new lunches, new gatherings, new walks… solo with the person we bear the grudge with or with groups …… and allow room for the other person to show you a side you never saw before. Pay more attention to something about them that delights you and makes you feel good about being around them. And allow that fresh new experience to square off the account with that bad memory.
Forgiveness I cannot do. Forgetting is impossible for me to do.
So this walking stick is my only way forward. So says Mata Jaina.
So here’s a personal story: My aunt – the biggest molding influence on my childhood – and I were estranged for the past 4 years on account of bitter bitter feuds. Her life was full. And my life was full. So we stayed away from each other and neither missed much. And then there was news of her recurring breast cancer and impending double-mastectomy at the height of Covid in India. And so I threw in the towel and called her a day before her surgery to chat. That went well. Then we chatted again a few days after her surgery. And things she said again went on to inspire me! She, at 75, after this major surgery is planning for her next travels – whenever they may materialise. She is not disheartened. She continues to hold her spirits high and nurture her dreams. And as she spoke of this I was incredulous … and motivated. How wonderful that she has not given up on life! Am inspired to interact with her more often and to feed off her spirit. Who would have thought!? So today we have set up a time for a video call. Will add in other aunts to the call and we’ll all sing some old Hindi songs together that we all listened to when we all lived together in one home. And we shall all recreate the happy times.
And with these new moments that we shall create together, we shall forget the pain we caused each other.
And life will go on.
I don’t know how to forgive. But I can move ahead with positivity with all these little tricks as walking sticks.
By the way here is the walking stick that started me off on this topic:
See more of this unusual walking stick here on WOVENSOULS.COM