I find it strange when people try to ‘expose’ other people for having held the opposite of their currently held beliefs at some point in their past. It’s as if it’s some kind of a badge of honor to never change your mind about anything and never to allow reason to point you in the right direction when new thoughts and new knowledge find their way into your own head.
Only zealots and fanatics can hold on to one thought and disregard all other truths that could make it obsolete. The sign of true intelligence is to adapt your mind to new facts and to allow yourself to grow beyond those stunted ideas of how the world works. Because in all truth, the world changes constantly, and as it grows, you must grow with it.
I can hardly recognize myself of old. I sometimes look at my own memories with a critical eye and feel completely estranged from that person who had these thoughts, voiced those opinions, and defended such positions.
The gift of sight and insight cannot be purchased, cannot be gifted, and cannot be learned. Yes, it cannot be learned, no matter how many books you read, who you listen to, whatever degree your hang on your wall, or how much you have going on in your life at the moment. It can only be earned by time stretched over many many years.
As we grow older, learn and experience more, we get the wisdom of hindsight. It comes out of years of mistakes, successes, failures, meeting new people, making connections, losing connections, loving people, and losing family and friends to death, illness and separation.
The entire spectrum of the human experience must befall you before you get to understand life enough to appreciate every living moment you have. To appreciate the time that you now have and the time that you have left.
Your battle scars from fate and fortune give you the wider perspective that you couldn’t have had otherwise. There are some very smart and precocious people who go through a lot of trauma in their early lives so much that they gain that old wise person’s look in their eyes ahead of their peers, but that’s not to say they have the same level-headedness of a person who had had years to navigate the thickets of emotional entanglement and finding their own way out of the emotional maze inside their own head.
And then, there’s shame. The shame we might feel for having old beliefs that we didn’t fully understand before we adopted them. Shame for those words we’ve said to the people we love. Shame for the people who cared for us that we pushed away or hurt on purpose because of our ignorance and immaturity. Shame for the time we wasted being selfish, being stubborn, being greedy, and holding on to anger.
And then there’s the next stage, which comes after all the shame and all the pain and all the attempts at reconciliation, that may or may not mend broken bridges that will never be as strong again, and that is forgiveness.
Forgiveness for those who have let you down, forgiveness for those who have wronged you, forgiveness for those who did not help you, and forgiveness for those who did not believe in you.
You let it all go and with every baggage of pain, anger, and disappointment you put down on the ground, you feel your heart gets lighter, your feet treading stronger and your head thinking clearer.
You work it out until you get rid of your shame, you shed the weight off your shoulders with forgiveness, but then you find yourself at another point where you have to face your own demons.
Your own personal demons are locked up in a deep dark room in the basement of your mind and you hear them howling at you in your moments of solitude, in those early hours of the day, those late hours of the night, and when a mirage from your past shows up and flashes some of your own memories before your eyes in broad daylight.
These are the worst you have to deal with and the hardest to vanquish and defeat. You may roam the heavens and earth, travel by foot, car, plane, or even a spaceship, covering miles or kilometers, or lightyears of distance from the place where you thought held your worst enemies and onto a new place where you don’t hear those howling screams in your dreams, to no avail. It takes you a long time to figure out that you’ve carried all of them along with you for all of that time. And no matter where you run to, they’ve always been with you, in that dark place you carry around in your own head.
These personal demons of your own shame, your own mistakes that no one else knew about, the bad things you got away with, the lies you told and everyone believed, the tricks you pulled and no one suspected you, and the dagger you stabbed in the back of someone you cared about and they never even knew it was you. But the worst of them all is the demon of the time you were silent when you should have said something, the times you stood still when you should have held out a helping hand, the times you knew the decision was all yours to make, and you deliberately chose to step down and have someone else make it for you.
The amount of forgiveness you have to deal yourself in is just as important, or even more important, than the forgiveness you dealt everyone else. You notice, at long last, that it was your ego who held all the keys to all of those prison cells in the underground dungeon of your soul.
Ego is the reason you took offense. Ego is the reason you had to win. Ego is the reason for selfishness. Ego is the reason for the shame when you did not win. And Ego is the reason for that loud nagging nasty rude and vindictive sound you heard in your head poisoning your thoughts all of those years.
But you take it further and you look deeper and closer, and you find that your own struggles with inadequacy and your place in the world, rather your deeply rooted primal fears are at the core of all that mountain of suffering.
That is when you find that love was the cure all along. Love for yourself is the cure for your own heart, for your own fears, for your own troubles, and that love for yourself will simply overflow to wash over all those around you. It washes over those people you can now hold near and dear, those who are not as close to you as they once were, those who have found their own way, those who were lost, and those who are still stumbling.
Love your friends and love your enemies. Open your eyes to how people are influenced by how the world was presented to them. Know that every single one of us is the summation of a random series of events, connections, and experiences that shaped the colors they see in the world and that we’re always surrounded by painted glass that filters the light and defines the shades of light and color we see in the world. That sometimes all that is necessary to help someone is to let them know they can clean their own windows, open them, or step outside and let them take that step on their own. Learn that you can’t push people towards what you think is right or away from what is wrong, all you can is show them the way and let them make their own minds and make those decisions on their own.
Open your heart to the idea that you can never give up on people and that as long as someone is alive they have a chance to change.
Loving yourself is the one thing you can do to help the world. And the only way to help the world is to love yourself first, then loving the world.
In the words of Kamal Ravikant, love yourself like your life depends on it.
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