Rabbi Rachel Timoner said, “..forgetting is the single biggest obstacle to living the life we intend to live. Think about how we learn or improve ourselves: We observe our behavior and imagine a better way. We set an intention. We apply our will. But then time passes. We are busy. Our minds are pulled in a hundred different directions. We take the easiest and most familiar path. We forget our commitment. When we remember that we are not doing what we intended, we feel we have failed. If we dwell only on the fact that we forgot, there will be no growth. But if we use that moment of remembering as an opportunity to return to our intention, we are one step closer to changing. We will forget again, of course, but then we will have another opportunity to remember and return.”
I read The Sun Magazine every month – when I fish it out of the mailbox, there’s a moment of glee, (“YES! Something of value in the mailbox, finally.”) and then I turn to the back page to read the quote page that they’ve dubbed “Sunbeams” to try to guess the theme of the issue. Then I see who the interview is and usually start reading it while trying not to run into a tree on my way back to the house. As a human, as Timoner suggests, I am prone to forgetting, but The Sun has a way of reminding me what is important to keep thinking about. In this case, about how forgetting, in no matter what form, is a daily challenge.
In my day to day work as a wellness coach, I ask people over and over why they are trying to make changes, what they want to see for themselves, what is making now the time to focus on living differently. Most people come up with an answer pretty quickly – but the next week, maybe they slip back into old unwanted habits and beat themselves up over their perceived failures, or they lose focus and their commitment wavers, or life gets chaotic and the well-worn path is the least painful even if it doesn’t go where they want it to go. They forget. We all do. Again, and again. And again.
But, as the rabbi suggests, not all is lost. To forget is not the end. Because just as we forget time and time again, each time we do we are also offered another opportunity to remember. And each time we remember and act on that remembering, we create another path. Maybe it’s not as well worn as the old rut, but it’s a path that, with a bit of grace and grit mixed together, might just lead us through the forgotten pass (the one that’s so often shrouded in mist or seemingly teaming with ferocious beasts) to what we thought was the unreachable side of the mountain. As we practice remembering, we might discover that taking the well-worn path loses some of its appeal after we’ve seen what that far side of the mountain can offer. We don’t have to get there all at once. Perhaps we only visit the far side now and then. But actively remembering it’s there helps harness some of the power necessary for living the life we intend to live.