Amblin' Alameda: When you've got it, enjoy it

Amblin' Alameda: When you've got it, enjoy it

Morton Chalfy

My grandchildren are visiting me this week, so naturally I'm on top of the world. There is nothing like the pure love of a child to make one forget one's past transgressions and unworthinesses as one basks in fervent clasps and hugs and “I love you, Grandpa's.” Everyone should be able to experience this sort of joy and more importantly, be able to enjoy and appreciate it.

As one who has made a lifetime work of appreciation and enjoyment, I'm reasoning that one's time through this life is license to appreciate what we encounter and not willing to waste any days of my life in fruitless regrets of what might have been or what actually was. But in the midst of my current joyfulness I am aware of many who could be enjoying their lives but find themselves unable to do so. Unable, usually, because the past has a grip on their minds which they cannot release. For these people, (some of whom are very close to me) I feel profound sympathy and a strong desire to find some magic word or phrase that would free them from their pasts.

In searching for a magic spell I found the passing of Nelson Mandela on my doorstep and could think of no more shining example of my wish. If Mandela, after 27 years of confinement in a South African prison, being isolated and put to breaking stones, could come out understanding that if he came out with resentment and desire for revenge his personal life would continue to reside in that prison cell no matter where he was actually living, then anyone could do the same.

In Mandela's case his forgiveness and tolerance was the catalyst for his entire country to be able to begin the healing process without resorting to race war. But in his words his reasons for forgiving and moving on with his life were personal, done so as not to live imprisoned in his own mind. The healthy effect it has had on South Africa and the rest of the world were bonuses that came from his own self-healing.

The lesson he offers to us all is that it can be done. One can refuse to let the past continue its negative hold on one's life purely by dint of will. The past does not show on one's face, there is no scarlet letter proclaiming one's insecurities to the world. If the scars left by the past do not show after a good shower they can be left behind and the world can be greeted with a smiling face and an inside at peace with itself.

Many have to struggle hard to overcome their personal obstacles in life but once the obstacles have been overcome, or are being overcome, the internal adjustment to appreciate the life one is living in the present can be made.

When you are the only one hanging on to the emotional baggage of the past you are the only one who can lay that burden down. Think of Nelson Mandela laying down the pain of 27 years and let that be a beacon to light the path to happiness. The payoff for the struggle is happiness. Let yourself feel it.