Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Celebrating the Past
This past week we’ve had a most interesting example of how to let go of the past through celebration instead of mourning. News reports and videos showing the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela by the South African people have inspired people around the world. But a few people in our American culture might have found the impromptu songs, dancing and almost party-like atmosphere to be unfamiliar, if not downright disrespectful. President Obama was highly criticized by the media for taking a “selfie” with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at the memorial. Why, they were SMILING at a memorial! How simply scandalous! Seriously?
As a rule in the United States funerals and memorials are more about sadness and loss, not celebration. Yes, “celebration of life” is a term that has been increasingly popular since the later part of the twentieth century, but for the most part funerals in our country can be pretty dismal. What makes President Mandela’s memorial and the actions of the South Africans so different?
A big factor is a willingness on the part of his people to let go and move on. Many of us were taught as children to revere the past in ways that are very unhealthy. That is not to say that we should ignore the past. The celebrations all over the world over the past week are evidence of how we can celebrate the amazing accomplishments of someone who is no longer among us. But dwelling on the past, usually with the intention of rehashing past pain and anguish about which we can do nothing is damaging to our spirit and our bodies. It also doesn’t make us the type of person who gets invited out a lot for other parties.
If we are honest about it, most of us still have regrets about the past. I discovered one of my own this week when I heard the United States Air Force band performing a flash mob with the USAF choir. I had a few pangs of regret that I was not able to serve my country as a young man. The Air Force would have been my first choice. I could have been in that band, or the choir, or started a career in the aviation industry as a pilot or flight attendant much sooner than I eventually did at age 45. But there is absolutely nothing I can do to change those events over 40 years ago that didn’t happen the way I’d have liked them to happen.
What are you still grieving about from your past? If you’re 58 and still pining about not being an Olympic ice skater you might want to get a grip. You can still go ice skating, but put down that bottle of Shiraz and stop whining.
What regrets are you willing to get over once and for all? Consider taking a deep breath and letting it go. Then celebrate all your blessings today! I did and I highly recommend it.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,