I was thinking the other day about Independence Day, and what it means to actually be independent, or free.  It dawned on me that, in order to be truly free, we have to be willing to forgive.  Forgive wrongdoings done against us, forgive ourselves, forgive situations that did not meet our expectations, forgive our short-comings; allow ourselves to be free from the emotional trappings that these occurrences once brought to light.

Yet, if we carry these emotions with us, and continue to revisit or dwell in the emotions of these occurrences, meaning we have yet to let them go from our hearts, it’s safe to say, we are no longer living in the present moment of our life. And, if we continue to hold animosity toward another for their actions in the past, we are essentially stating the belief, “people never change.” This kind of locked mindset is sure to color our actions moving forward. It seems it’s easiest to assume people don’t change, because then we never have to envision them as anything other than the person who hurt us, or upset us, or challenged our expectations. But, if I may, are you the same person you were a year ago?  Likely no.  Perhaps that individual has also changed?  Even in the smallest of ways.  That does not mean we will ever walk into their fire again, but rather, we acknowledge the desire to continue to approach life with an openness and sense of possibility; reflective of the changes and growth that you, yourself, have made.  If we approach a situation with sourness, since it once proved a sour experience, we are undoubtedly ensuring it will be sour again.

Consider how much emotion you hold within you towards incidents of the past.  Now you may be saying, “Those emotions are justified!”  And, perhaps they were… then, when the event was happening.  But, why are they relevant now?  I want you to think of someone whom you hold hostility or annoyance towards.  Would you willingly hand them over a bottle of your emotions to tend to?  Would you trust them to treat that bottle with caution, love and respect?  If we choose to retain the emotions of past events, that is exactly what we are doing; we are giving the power of our emotions over to another. You’ll know this is the case when you have interaction with them, and those emotions flood your interaction.

I thought about the phrase, “To forgive and forget,” and how forgetting played into freedom.   Do we need to also forget to be free?  It’s impossible to actually forget, right?  But what if we considered forgetting to make reference to how we are impacted moving forward.  For example:  If you had a situation happen at work with a colleague that you felt was unjust, if the next time you were in similar circumstances, would you taint those circumstances with the memories of what has not been forgotten?  Because to me, when our past is shaping our now, we are no longer truly present or choosing from what is the truth in the current moment.  Thus our freedom is lost to a belief pattern that keeps us from being present, or allowing for new circumstances to evolve.  If we can release the expectations of the past situation to recognize how this occurrence is unique, then we retain our freedom.

I think about the beautiful quote by Ram Dass that is painted on a mural by my home; “We are all just walking each other home.”  It’s such a powerful thought, isn’t it?  We are all helping each other to uncover our own soul-identity on this humanly plane.  Forgiveness is an aspect of this, as it insists we let go of our story of hurt, or self-judgments, or expectations of ourselves, others, and life.  When we can let those ideas be washed out with the continuous lapping tide of life; our inner beach is left anew with each breath.  We can’t have this and our story. 

What would your life look like if you forgave the circumstances you hold most scarring?  The person you deem most cruel?  What space within you would have to open to allow for this to be so?  Is that person more or less aligned to who you desire yourself to be?

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