Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. For it is only upon reflection of our lives that we realise what was really important and what was trivial in the scheme of things. It’s then that we see how much it is in our best interest to let go of the resentment and treasure those relationships that we hold dear.
Holding onto malice is a waste of time and energy and distracts us from the things in life we need to remain focussed on. In fact, not only does the bitterness work against our sense of inner peace, but it stands in the way of our happiness.
How many times have we stopped talking to a sibling over a menial offence such as eating something of ours out of the refrigerator? Or because of a negative comment we heard they might have made about us? We make the decision to stop talking to them. Years pass, sometimes decades. In some cases, death makes the decision to cut them off irreversibly and the chance of reconciliation is gone forever.
The same can be said of friendships that were destroyed over nonsensical matters. Valuable friendships, which have gotten people through some of the toughest times of their lives have been ruined over hearsay. And if the parties involved would have taken the time to investigate, they would have discovered that no such thing was said and would have been able to continue that meaningful relationship. Or if the offensive statements were indeed made, the anger wears away and forgiveness can wipe the slate clean and enable the friendship to continue.
When the chips are down and our health has taken a beating, whom do we look to for care and assistance in the recovery process? First, our family members then our friends. Hence nurturing these ties should remain high on our list of priorities.
In “understanding life backwards” as the Danish philosopher speaks, we’ll realise that spending more time with the older people in our lives, such as our grandparents, if we’re lucky to have them around, and talking to them more would have given us greater insight about our family history. It would have exposed us to the wisdom they gained facing their own life situations throughout the years. Their pearls of wisdom would have better assisted us in planning our own way forward and taking greater care not to make the same mistakes they did.
Some are quite blessed to share great relationships with family and unaware of their good fortune. If one makes it to adulthood with one’s parents alive, healthy, and in their lives, they’re blessed. They’re even more lucky if that’s also the case with their grandparents. To make the most of these blessings, this fortunate set must remain focussed on what’s important in life. They must also keep in mind that everyone’s time on this earth will come to an end, so giving loved ones their flowers while they’re alive and treasuring the time shared with them will help to ease the blow when that dreaded time comes.
So spend time with your loved ones. Help them when they’re in need. Take interest in their well-being. Let them know you love them and that you admire them, so that when they pass on, you will be satisfied that they knew you loved them.
Meantime, as you continue through the journey we call life, keep in mind the words of the good philosopher: that it must be lived forward. Our time on this earth is too short to hold onto those odious elements that get in the way of our peace of mind. Letting bygones be bygones will free us up to enjoy our experiences more and use our trials and tribulations as lessons to guide us.
When we live life in this manner, we are better equipped to handle whatever tragedy life throws our way, such as the one recently dealt to the family and friends of Dee’s Service Station attendant Dorothy Prince.
It’s rather easy to get caught up in our daily routines. Pressure from our jobs and other stressors make it more difficult to remain focused on what really matters. Many times we put too much emphasis on those things that are inconsequential and neglect those that really matter. So in all that you do, always make time for the people you love, for they will not be here forever and in reflecting on our lives, we want no regrets.