Friday, March 15, 2013

Lessons learned...lessons lost

Life reminds us of our past on a pretty regular basis, in the form of our actions related to things that can affect our present, and possibly our future.

Bad jobs, bad friendships, bad romances, and bad experiences in general tend to leave the most profound of all the emotional baggage we live with.

The scorned woman will tell you with supreme vivacity and recount to you every detail about the time she was cheated on.  She will seldom talk about all the times someone was entirely faithful to her.

The bitter man will speak with fervor about the friend who betrayed him, but ask him to speak of all the times others gave him support in the neediest of times, and he's far more absent minded and lukewarm.

People often say or write that our past shapes us, and makes us who we are.  What does it say about the scorned and the bitter, that the things in the past they cling to the most, and the most awful of things that happened to them?

I suppose you could chalk it up to self preservation.  In order to fully trust someone, you must make yourself vulnerable to them.  This is often the hardest hurdle for people to overcome in life because the things in our past that we cling to.  People often refer to emotional wounds or bad past experiences as "scars" however I think "scabs" would be more appropriate.  Scars are the reminders left with us in regards to wounds that occurred.  But a scab.......



A dry, rough protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during healing.

A scab is something that is protective over a wound, that is not completely healed.  The scabs of our life are the things we do to protect ourselves from getting wounded in the same way again.  We instinctively avoid the emotional pain associated with trusting someone or giving in to someone because you know what, "this one time this person I loved and trusted did this to me, so never again....."

 The lesson learned from that scab, is not to trust.  Not to love.  Not to be vulnerable, and not to forgive.

The lesson lost is that we are here to love.  To forgive.  To make ourselves vulnerable so that we can do those things wholly, and with little regret.  

The lesson lost, is that we are here to hurt also.  The pain of being human and being vulnerable  is reminded to us through learning these lessons.  

The longer you seal yourself off from those things the more empty and hollow your life becomes, and it will not protect you forever.  Solitude will not keep you eternally safe.  Eventually loneliness will get the better of you, and you will yearn harder for that space to be filled than the temporary shelter of solitude.  

A good friend, a wonderful companion, someone to share the most significant moments in your life with...that is what you will miss  Someone that, over time, will erase the scabs of the past and allow you to let go of being afraid to be vulnerable.  But in order to allow that to happen, you must allow someone (or some thing) to actually do that.

If you want no better example of that, contrast the lessons learned and lost in the relationships we have with people, and with our pets.  

Think of the best dog you ever owned, and lost.  You don't think of betrayal or mistrust.  You don't think of how he or she may have cheated on you, by wanting so badly to be petted by other people that came over to visit.  You never questioned their loyalty to you because of that.  You knew that their adoration and dedication to you, was unwavering.  When they passed away, you missed them.  You cried and hurt and went through all the things that reminds us of mortality and just how temporal things in this world can be.

You probably eventually owned another dog.  You may have loved it just as much as the previous one.  

Losing the one dog, didn't keep you from owning and loving another dog.  You still know that one day, you'll lose this new pup as well.  That cycle of love and grief will again be put into play.  But no scab ever forms.  The lasting thing, the lasting lesson, was the companionship, love, and time you were able to share together.  

This is because you always feel deserving of that love.  That time.  That loyalty.  You give those things to the pup, and they are returned right back to you ten fold.  Unconditionally.  We generally don't shy away from ever owning another dog or growing close to it because we afraid of loss (though it does happen, I still haven't gotten a new pup since Dozer died, but I will eventually).  We embrace that feeling because the time we get with them, and the experiences we share, either outweighs the pain of losing them, or we deem the pain worth it.  

With people, we have trouble admitting such things unless we lose someone because their time is up, and not because they walked away from us.  When that happens, it puts so many things back into perspective.  Good friends that pass away make you realize the value and importance of understanding and learning the lessons of friendship.  

The love a good parent has for their kids.  The lessons learned of being a great mother or father.  

The love shared in a lasting marriage or romance.  The lessons learned in what it is to give your heart to someone, and have that reciprocated.  

When we think of the loss of these people in our life, or these relationships, we know how important these lessons are to learn.  

Life is not short.  It's the longest thing you will ever do.  It's up to you to decide if the lessons learned will be the ones that caused scabs, or if those will be your lessons lost.  In the end, you will only receive the lessons, love, and friendship that you believe you deserve.  

To the people in my life that love me unconditionally, that give me friendship and support even when I feel like I don't always deserve it....thank you.  


  1. As as son, as a brother, as a husband,as a father, and as guy who lost his beloved dog a few years ago, i can totally relate to what you are saying.

    (Lifting) Iron is still the best anti-depressant as someone put it so correctly.

    Very well said Paul. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Sounds like we've got ourselves a philosophizer on our hands.

    Good stuff, as always, Paul.

  3. Seriously, one of the best posts I've read in years. You echoed precisely what a counselor told me years ago and it was powerful enough that it never left me. I'm a competitive lifter, but I visit your site and bought your book for this kind of advice more than any other reason. Thanks Paul.