A few thoughts on how to release regret and learn to live (I)


There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
The Beatles, In My Life

We don’t like change. Who you have been, where you have gone, what you have done, what you have acquired: these construct your identity. You have made an idea of who you are from once-upon-a-time. To undergo change, you must ease your grip on the past, and let the idea of yourself trickle away.

Until I was 31 I listened to music almost non-stop. Then, having undergone the Exercises, I found I listened much less. Now, 25 years on, I almost never listen to music. I prefer silence.

I have decided to pass on my CDs, records, record deck and CD players. They are cluttering my home and I don’t want them. Most of this music is ripped onto a hard drive and safely backed up, yet I prevaricate. I hesitate to pass it on and to let go of the idea of myself as someone who listens to a lot of music and is knowledgable about it. I struggle with an attachment to the security of an embarrassment of plastic, which has been more about the comfort of possession, including the possession of memories, than the challenging uncertainty of releasing into this second, and this music.

Much music is redolent with memory; but memory veils the notes: you hear the music as you are, not as it is. It is difficult to relinquish memories – then and there – because who you have come to think you are – here and now – is bound up in them. You might be dispossessed of yourself.

To let the past go – to release regret; to let go of yourself – is to move into being nothing. Shockingly, it can feel preferable to hold onto terrible, life-constricting, historical pain than to let go into this nothing. But, there can be nothing new without a death.

What do you hold close because it gives you a sense of yourself?

[See Part II.]

4 thoughts on “A few thoughts on how to release regret and learn to live (I)

  1. Julian, do you know the poem, Hafiz I think

    I am a hole
    in a flute that the
    Christ’s breath moves
    Listen to this music

    I have spent the last few months imagining and praying with this, a hole is nothing, yet without it there is no music. Thank you for your writing, so often seems to resonate, much appreciated up here on a windswept and beautiful island.

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