I had an epiphany this week. In fact I may call it a vision. Perhaps you are thinking I am headed over the abyss, that I have officially lost it. If so, I have some golfing buddies who may well agree with you.
I received an email from someone who was clearly frustrated, feeling hopeless because of life experiences and thinking his life had been a total waste. He felt that as much as he had tried, given his all, it had all been for naught.
I felt somewhat lost as to how I could help. In essence I could listen, normalize and validate his feelings. I could put on my counselling hat and try to help him through his struggles. Another option was to let him know that what he was feeling was not reality and that he needed to buck up, quit feeling sorry for himself, and move on.
But part of me also deeply understood what he was experiencing. In my darkest days I have reflected on my journey and also felt that many years were wasted. Then feelings of regret take over and I play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game.
Shortly after talking with him I came across a quote that provided the epiphany. The quote went as follows; “Don’t stumble over something behind you”. For a fleeting moment I had a vision. Looking back I saw a picture of devastation. It looked messy. But when I looked ahead I saw a clear path, the sun was shining, the grass was green, it looked tranquil.
It passed relatively quickly but it got me thinking, thinking about recovering. I remembered the definition of “recover”. It means to return to a previous state of health, prosperity and equanimity. Sometime ago I had a conversation with a friend and asked her for her definition. (My apologies to her, I am using this without her permission) “I would say that a recovering farmer is someone who worked tirelessly through blood, sweat, and tears to produce nourishment for the world in spite of the fact that neither markets, nor individuals, pay tribute to their toil. To recover from farming is to let go of all one’s losses…..while not forgetting their contributions.”
Although that is in the context of farming I believe it also holds true for other areas of life. I know for myself I particularly appreciate the last part of her definition. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of letting go of losses but never forgetting our contributions.
Let me use another analogy. The rear view mirror on my car is small. How successful are we in moving forward if we only look at that small mirror? Even the warning “objects maybe be closer than they appear” holds some truth. Sometimes the past seems to be sneaking up on us and come close enough to create worry but ultimately need not be a problem, unless we are backing up. However when we look forward we have a significantly larger view through the windshield.
To keep moving forward use the windshield, accept the future for all it has to offer. We may fail and we may think we wasted part or all of our life. Use the understanding and knowledge of the failure to build a foundation from which you can grow and flourish and maintain perspective. The key is not to be spooked by failure but rather to have a willingness to fail again, because if we don’t take risks, if we don’t step outside of our comfort zone, we will not become better. And, most important of all, we must forgive ourselves for our failures. Without forgiveness we will continue to beat ourselves up which inevitably will lead to more failures. Make it a good one.
“Scars remind us of where we have been but don’t have to dictate where we are going.” Joe Mantegna