There’s No Undoing What’s Done


Do you remember this scene? Do you remember the sheer strength of Yoda’s will that raised the starship out of the marsh? The magical, wondrous creature gave us a magical moment that illustrated just how powerful The Force could be, if only we could just master it.

Now, think about this. Would you have remembered this scene in Star Wars just now if I hadn’t brought it up? Chance are good that 1.) you saw the movie, probably more than once, and 2.) if you were paying attention at all, this particular scene stuck with you if only because you wished something like that could really happen in the real world.

Well, I’m not one to bend to pessimistic cynicism and would rather take the momentous feat portrayed in the movie as a sign of hope, as proof of the strength of thought and will, and as an indication of the energy that flows through everything. Why? Because someone else thought it and literally “said it out loud.” I’m not the only one looking beyond the physical for something more; literally, more meaning.

No, I don’t remember the scene all the time, but watching it shored up my feelings of hope and potential and endless possibilities. I remember the results in me, if not the experience of watching the movie. Those results are a part of me, inseparable from the whole self that is me.

You can’t ‘unexperience’ something you’ve experienced. You can’t unlearn what you’ve already learned.

You are the sum total of all your experiences and lessons.

When I sit down to write about a childhood memory, what comes to mind is something that had an impact on me, i.e., is a part of who I am. Sharing it with you, I hope that reading about my experience triggers something in you that will bring a piece or two of the puzzle together for you. For the same reason, I relish and dive into the memories you also share. I’m always on the lookout for pieces of the huge puzzle that is life. Besides, a good portion of what we learn we learn from others along with the rest of the stuff that we learn from direct experience.

I’ve experienced the overwhelming pain and suffering of a Vietnam War veteran who saw the end of a rifle poking up from a grass mat covered hole in the floor of a hut. After emptying his M16, he pushed the mat aside to find he had just killed three very young children.

I’ve experienced the trauma and the disorientation left behind by childhood sexual abuse, rapes, spousal abuse, violence and traumatic injury much more severe than any I experienced myself.

I’ve experienced the incredible love for my newborn child and for a man I love almost as much, and I’‘ve experienced losing that man and watching my child grow up and leave home. 

Everything, every little thing that has happened to me in this lifetime has led me to joy and a boundless love for life. Everything, whether it happened to me or whether it was an experience shared with me. Everything is me. Everything is you.

Nothing that has happened to you or I can be undone. There’s no erasing the memory or the lesson or the results of either. No matter how stubborn you are, denial never really works for very long.

The only thing that we can do is change the way we think about those lessons and experiences. Take those memories out, dust them off, and look at them again. You’ll be glad you did.

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