Why Bother To Accept The Past?
Recently, my husband and I watched one of our favorite movies, The Kid. It’s humorous story line drives home an important point about all of us: we don’t willingly welcome our past into our present.
Our Younger Selves
In the movie, Russ, (Bruce Willis) is turning forty. Though a financially successful image consultant, he is a jerk who lacks any sense of humility, a key ingredient in any good human being. But before the movie ends, his eight-year-old-self, Rusty, helps him to welcome his past into the present, showing him how to be less of a jerk.
Russ worked hard all of his life to eliminate any traces of his painful childhood. He omitted his speech impediment with speech therapy. He eradicated his pudginess with a better diet and he does not accept any invitations to family gatherings, thus maintaining distance between him and them. The image he personifies to the world is that of a very successful and independent business man. But when Rusty, his eight-year-old self, shows up, he sees Russ for what he is, a chickless, dogless loser with an eye twitch.
Russ cannot accept Rusty’s presence in his life believing instead that he is an illusion, something brought on by a nervous breakdown he thinks he is experiencing. But the powerful medication his psychologist prescribes in order to calm him down, does nothing to make the younger version of himself disappear. Nor does denying Rusty’s existence exterminate him either. It is not until Russ accepts Rusty’s presence that anything changes for the better.
Our pasts can be difficult for any of us to view. We’ve all lived through tragic moments in our childhood. Whether it was the death or divorce of our parents, bullying on the playground, or a dozen moves to different houses, things happened to us that were beyond our control. Yet, the events effected us, leaving their mark, an impression, a memory and/or a wound. But, kids don’t have any tools to unpack and examine what happened. Instead, kids have the resolve to survive.
Not until adulthood do we get a chance to look back at those sad, defining moments and consider the lessons we might learn from them. Like Russ, we may try to eliminate our past, or deny its existence even when it shows up in our present: that vow we made to never cry again, or that eye twitch that won’t go away. Even though acceptance may be the last thing we want to do, it may also be the very thing that humbles us enough to learn something making us less of a jerk.
Why bother to accept our past. It is worth acknowledging since it never leaves us anyway.