I had coffee with an old friend today.
It wasn’t in a fancy joint; it was in a really breezy hawker centre.
We hadn’t met in over a year, and so this meeting to trade tales whilst consuming hot beverages (reasonably priced!) was a very welcome break in the monotony that has become my life.
He was going through a rough patch in his life, and was just coming out on the other side. As we relived his trials, he dropped a single line that somehow struck an off-tune chord with me.
“There is nothing to forgive.”
Now, while obviously this needs some context, I think we’ve all enough brains to realise that he was feeling guilty about a lot of things. But he was coming to the point where he was able to acknowledge that there isn’t a point in carrying that weight on our shoulders. There isn’t any utility to be derived from nursing that guilt.
Let it go, move on.
The longer you stagger around with sunk costs on your mind, the faster you go nowhere.
I’ve always wanted to be a pilot since I was 8, clutching my Supermarine Spitfire model (1/32 size!) whilst watching our national carrier’s planes launch from the runway at Changi, magnificent in their livery, and when I was finally called up for the RSAF Air Grading (fought for 2 years – long story there), I was beside myself with epic elation. I poured everything I had in me towards my training.
This Cadet was given a Cadbury Freddo Frog as a consolation by my LTC (Ret.) and shown the door. I had a difficult time forgiving myself for years.
But, there was, and is, nothing to forgive.
Shit’s happened. You obviously didn’t roll with the punch, seeing that you’re bunched up on the floor, crying. Stand up, centre yourself and analyze your situation with passivity and objectivity. Let the experience flow through you, and do not jump to label the experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Understand that there is an opportunity to learn from this incident. Sieve out the lessons, consume them, regain your balance, and move the hell on.
Often, after a thorough analysis of the situation (coffee helps), I’ve found that many emotions that we feel bogged down with; say guilt, or regret, are simply kinks in the thread that weaves our life story. We’ve the power to reframe the problem in a different context, a different light, and once we do, the ‘problem’ magically stops being one.
I admit. I am an emotion-junkie. I like feeling down sometimes as it’s when I get my best writing done. But in the long run, I’m just wasting everybody’s time. There comes a point when nobody gives a shit about what’s going on with you; listening to your bitching is simply a pre-requisite for them to have an audience to bitch to (That’s what Twitter is for).
So, finish up that last bit of coffee in your mug, have a last cry, and from tomorrow, get out there and stop feeling sorry for yourself.
One of the last shots I took before leaving the airbase. Poignant.