Aging Well in the Gorge February 23rd 2022

 For fourteen years I have been writing this column, and I found this 2009 column worth sharing again. I want to thank to Dick Lafever who helped me and many others to better understand what it means to forgive.

As we age, we all gain different insights: it’s okay to slow down, and that “this too shall pass”. Hugh Downs, the TV personality you may remember, shared with Connie Goldman and Phillip Berman for their book “The Ageless Spirit” one of the most valuable insights he has learned: he didn't have to hate anybody. "When I was very young, I had a lot of hatreds that came from fears. Now there's nobody to fear, and therefore there's nobody I hate. That's a great freedom, because hate, as somebody said, is a weapon you wield by the blade, and it just cuts you up. But if you don't fear, you don't hate. There's a great liberty in (that).”

For Hugh Downs hatred came from fear, but it can also grow from anger or feeling injured. And as with our fears, we can let go of our sense of injury or anger by forgiving. Forgiving can free us from our self-absorption with past injustices and because we are no longer shackled to the past, we can move forward to a brighter and more positive future. And the beauty of forgiving is that it’s about you and not the other. It is within your power to forgive. It is within your power to just let go.

There is a time to forgive, to heal, to move on, but when and how is unique to each individual and may take time to travel the road towards forgiveness. It is a personal choice, a heartfelt choice to forgive and let go without any consideration of the forgiven. It is unconditional and without reciprocity. And as it is important, it is not easy. A Gallup poll found that 94% of the folks sampled said it was important to forgive, but 85% said they needed some outside help to be able to forgive.

In many ways, forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not about minimizing the hurts and wrongs which are real and painful. It is not about forgetting, but we need not let the offense dominate our lives. It is not about condoning or excusing the act, although there may come a time when the reasons are better understood. It is not the same as reconciliation for the offender does need to be a part of our future. And forgiveness is not a sign of either weakness or saintliness, but an expression of human strength.

We carry with us conscious and unconscious hurts that bond us to the past; unable to enjoy and explore the future with passion and love. And although it is extremely difficult and may take time, forgiveness can set us free. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, "without forgiveness there is no future".

The name of Beatle’s twelfth and final studio album released on May 8th, 1970, almost a month after they broke up, was Let It Be. I received correct answers from Rose Schulz, Doug Nelson, Rebecca Abrams, Kim Birge, and Gene Uczen this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week, Diana Weston’s answer seems to have disappeared in the cloud somewhere between here and there.

Seeing the picture of Commander, President Biden’s new German Shepard puppy, reminded me of this TV star who he and his kin starred in twenty-three movies and were featured in film, radio, and television including a television series named after him that ran on ABC from 1954 through 1959. For this week’s “Remember When” questions, what was the name of this dog who was found in a bombed-out dog kennel during WWI and was named after the finger puppets given to American soldiers by French children? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a case of Ken-L Ration.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to stay on the bright side of the street. Until we meet again, take your shoes off, sit back and relax. As the Old Farmer from Fossil said, “Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway”.

"Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace." Robert J. Sawyer

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