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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Looking Back at the Ghosts

I have this two-fold theory about winters in Northeastern Pennsylvania:
  1. The temperatures start to get warmer around Valentine's Day, and
  2. The chance for any real snow ends on or about March 25th.
Neither is supported by any real data, but at this stage, I'm mostly just hoping.
Now that the weather report is out of the way, on to the main topic at hand.
"Give no f&^ks about those who would give no f&^ks about you."*
That's been my (admittedly crude) mantra as I try to navigate life in my later 50's, with all that entails.  Sometimes that message hits home very quickly when I am facing something that I find mildly upsetting.  Sometimes it has to truly be something of an actual mantra, whereby I repeat it over and over again until it sinks into my brain like so much melted butter into toast.  That latter was last Saturday, after I read something on my LinkedIn feed that I found brought back plenty of bad memories.  Yes, while I was power-walking through the Viewmont Mall on Sunday, on a quest for long-sleeve polo shirts that don't look like they are meant for old men (I am in my late 50's, but I will be damned if I will be dressing like it).  I didn't find any, by the way.  But I did have lots of time to ponder the thing that bothered me, and probably more importantly, why it was bothersome.
To the last sentence of the prior paragraph, I'll just note the following:  Sometimes we are reminded of the past, and thoughts of "why did this happen" re-emerge like cicadas, along with memories of those signals we should have paid attention to at the time, but for some reason didn't.  As Brene Brown would note (or did note in one of her books...I think...), it's important when we look back at the past, to remember that we did the best we could at the time with what we knew then.   While I am generally pretty hard on myself when it comes to most things, I do acknowledge that there has been very little in my life that I've done or decided where my intent was in any way to cause harm to others.  Now have I actually caused harm to others?  Sure, and I regret the consequences of those actions, while still acknowledging that, as previously noted, I did the best I could at the time.
Anyway, I think I am past the worst of those negative thoughts.  The other thing I try to remind myself of, in addition to the mantra noted above, is that all of us have a figurative expiration date printed on our sides.  As in we will all eventually die.  Do I, for example, really and truly want to waste what time I have left thinking about the crappy parts of my life?  The logical me cringes at the time I have given over to ghosts of the past.  
"Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?"(Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here)
The story is that the Pink Floyd song "Wish You Were Here" was written about band founder Syd Barrett, who had slipped into a substance abuse fueled downward mental health spiral.  For some, those ghosts are pretty powerful things. Now I don't believe in actual ghosts, to the extent that the word "believe" is even relevant here, but I do know (as opposed to "believe") that if we don't let go of certain things, they become figurative ghosts in our lives, forever haunting us.  

As I roll all of this up, I can say that some ghosts of the past do creep into my life from time to time.  That's the bad news, but it's news that I likely share with many others.  The good news?  I've gotten better at not letting those ghosts take up permanent residence in my head.  Believe it or not, I am actually capable of learning.  From time to time.

 (*) Paraphrased from THIS very good book, which I highly recommend.

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