“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise.”
- Alden Nowlan
In the final analysis, what matters?
I was considering this question just the other day. You know, the old saying, you can’t take it with you. That applies to almost everything. You can’t take your possessions, your accomplishments, your friends or your family. But I think there is something you can take. I think wherever you go, wherever you end up, you take your choices with you.
Your choices are the only thing that can ever truly be yours.
Every time you choose to hurt or help someone, to treat someone like they matter or like they’re not worth a damn thing, only you can make that choice.
That, I find, is something so hopeful and positive. Because as long as you can own your choices, you own some wonderful and incredible things. The trick is to make sure you actually DO own your choices. I think a lot of the time, our choices can be made not necessarily by us but by the contexts that surround us.
For many people, some of the biggest, hardest, best and worst decisions are made by their own reflections of their parents. Or their siblings. Their best friend, their bad experience. And this isn’t always a bad thing. It is just something that you have to be aware of. You have to be aware of who or what is making your decisions.
I think, honestly, that it is better to make a bad decision yourself than to make a dozen good decisions for someone else. If you can step back and examine the times you messed up, and equally, the times you did the right thing, and then acknowledge that those choices were yours…well, you’ve picked up some things that will mean a lot more than anything money can buy.
The quote above, from Alden Nolan, is something that has meant a great deal to me over the last few years of my life. I think its meaning only grows more and more as we become older. It brings to mind the hardest step, which is of course to learn to forgive ourselves, after we take our choices on board.
Have I started to accept my choices and decisions? Yes.
Have I started to take ownership of them? Finally, yes.
But have I begun to forgive myself for them?
I would have to say, that remains on my bucketlist.