The doctor's young reception asked the asked the sixtish patient, "Are you on Medicare?". "No, I'm not," he answered. "I'm still working, and I plan to retire when I'm one hundred and four." She laughed and asked him to take a seat. He and I were the only people in the waiting room, so I smiled at the man and said "I liked your answer ... and your spirit." "Thanks," he replied, "would you like to hear the story behind my statement?" "I'd love to," I agreed.
His name was John and he worked for a government agency. John was responsible for approving loan applications for major home improvements. One day a woman called him and explained: "I need a loan to convert my heating system to gas, though I really don't mind the coal at all. It's those darn ashes - lugging them up from the basement all the time. I'm 104 now and I'm just so tired of carrying those ashes!" John was surprised at this outpouring, and a little skeptical of the woman's age claim, but the agency's investigation revealed that she was indeed 104 years old. Only now was she rebelling at the burden she'd borne for so many years.
After hearing John's story, I wondered if there wasn't a broader message here than just the remarkable stamina and endurance of an extraordinary woman. Picture the ashes as any heavy burden that one might carry inside for years, unwilling or unable to release feelings of anger, resentment, envy, or any other negative connection to the past. Happily, we don't have to shoulder this emotional load until we're 104, or even for another day, or even another moment.
By choosing to let go of the past, we can sweep out all the ashes that weigh us down and subtly affect every aspect of our health, our relationships, and our peace of mind.
My friend Jean was divorced after a thirty-year marriage that produced three daughters, one son and eight grandchildren. Because she had literally raised them single-handedly, Jean was hurt and angry that the children didn't take her part after the divorce. For months she refused to attend any family celebration to which Jim was also invited. When I reasoned that her children's perception of the relationship with and between the parents was probably altogether different from hers, she clung to the belief that she was right.
One day Jean called in tears. "Saturday is my grand-daughter's birthday, and I really want to be with her, but I can't bring myself to face my former husband." "Jim isn't the problem," I said gently, "it's false pride. Instead of holding on to the painful past, which is over and done, let the feelings go and get on with your life. You're depriving yourself of the joy of sharing in these important occasions, while Jim feels free to experience them. Tell me, would you rather be right, or be happy?"
That must have done the trick because when Saturday arrived, Jean appeared at her daughter's home bearing her famous chocolate-chip cookies and a beautiful birthday cake.
How great it feels to let go! How energizing! And the more we practice the art of letting go of all negativity, the better able we become to devote our thoughts, our time, and our energy to living joy fully in the present, whatever age we happen to be.
The Forgiveness Formula: How to Let Go of Your Pain and Move On with Life
by Kathleen Griffin.
In The Forgiveness Formula, author Kathleen Griffin offers a practical and innovative approach to confronting and letting go of the pain and anger caused by trauma and betrayal in our lives. Griffin walks readers step-by-step through her highly effective forgiveness process, helping them find the freedom to move on and answering all the questions they will struggle with along the way. Filled with down-to-earth wisdom, the author's personal experience, and gentle encouragement, The Forgiveness Formula helps readers create a more fulfilling, liberated, and empowered way to live and shows them that their past does not have to define their future.
May Paron is a writer, ordained minister and Doctor of Metaphysical Science whose focus is on health and hearing through spiritual psychology.