The Past

My Love started her firm.

She financed its growth entirely from her earnings, without outside loans or investors. She hired every member of the professional staff, directly from graduate school. It’s the only real employer any of them have ever had. She, or those she trained, trained every member of the professional staff.

She has made some of the professionals her partners, but everyone – inside and outside her firm – knows whose firm it is.

She makes and enforces the rules.

And everyone is happy with that.

You cannot change the past. You can only learn from it.
— My Love

That’s my Love’s guiding principle, in business and in life.

Her firm’s most basic rule: If one makes a mistake, one must own up to it at once, mitigate the consequences and learn from it.

She won’t point fingers. She won’t let anyone else point fingers. She’s not interested in blame or fault or guilt or shame or punishment or vengeance. She won’t let anyone else indulge them, either. All those things – blame, fault, guilt, shame, punishment, vengeance – are stupid.

Why? Because they can’t change the past. The past cannot be changed. Those things are a waste of time and energy.

The only thing you can do with the past is learn from it.

Her firm meticulously studies all its mistakes. Not to assign blame, but to learn.

Which is why her firm makes very, very few mistakes.

 The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

When I was young and trying to deny to myself that I am what I am, I did many things that I’m not proud of. Stupid things. Things that disgust me now. Things that disgusted me then.

I let others do awful, degrading things to me.

I never did anything criminal. I never endangered life or limb. But I endangered my soul and the souls of those who used me.

I left that behind when I left for the University. I started over. Tabula rasa. And I did leave it behind – for two years.

Then it all blew up.

One person vindictively, and others innocently, used it to destroy something I cherished.

To protect me from further harm, a woman did something noble and selfless, something that hurt her and irrevocably altered the course of her life. It hurt and altered the lives of everyone she loved.

When I told my Love about it, she quoted Faulkner.

The morning after it all blew up, I forgave them. I forgave them all. I forgave them everything. Then I forgave myself.

Not a passive-aggressive, self-righteous forgiveness. I just let it go. Forgot it.

I’m no saint. It just wasn’t worth the time, energy and thought – time, energy and thought that I needed for the things that I wanted to do in life. And I could see that storing up the injury was already eating at my soul, and would eat at my soul until my soul died, bitter and spiteful.

Years later, I met the woman who did the most to destroy the thing I cherished.

She acknowledged her fault and begged my forgiveness. I told her that I had forgiven her the day after the destruction.

She didn’t believe me.

Forgiveness is amazing, the most amazing thing in life. The most liberating. And it is all in one’s own power.

It frees the mind and body to be creative, constructive. It erases all the pain. It frees the soul.

All the awful things done to me, all the awful things I did to myself.


Good Friday

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.