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A hope note

‘It is what it is.’
I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. Coaches say it when asked about their sorry won-lost record. CEOs say it when asked about their company’s bankruptcy. It means, ‘This is reality. I don’t like it, but it can’t be changed. The issue now becomes what to do next.’ It’s the current rendition of George Eliot’s wisdom: ‘It’s but little good you’ll do a-watering last year’s crop.’
Someone once told me, ‘I have a delete button in my brain.’ Most of us don’t. We spend a lot of energy and time revisiting, replaying and regretting portions of our past.
In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ the King says, ‘The horror of that moment I shall never, never forget!’ The Queen rejoins, ‘You will though if you don’t make a memorandum of it.’ What can we do about memoranda of times people hurt us or let us down?
Sometimes the dying can instruct us. I knew a 13-year-old girl who was on a ventilator with a tube down her throat. She couldn’t talk, but she could write. I invited her to write a prayer that I would leave in the hospital chapel. She wrote much, but these are the first sentences of her prayer: ‘I hope I live to be very old. If I don’t, Lord, please take care of my mother. Help my father who has hurt me, but I have forgiven him.’ I know what unspeakable things her father did to her. She died three days after writing the prayer.
Whatever happened ‘is what it is.’ But we can re-frame and re-image it. We can see it less and less as a white-knuckled fist clutching a memorandum, and more as a fist loosening its grip on the painful memory and letting it go.