As things have gotten scary in our country and our world in the recent past, and as the state of our safety has evermore become a conscious concern … a lot has come up for all of us. As a person, I work to be in tune with my thoughts, feelings, and memories. As a psychotherapist, I help others do the same. And as both, I have, since I first heard it, been in tune with George Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I see the truth of that in our individual lives. It’s at the heart of the healing depth psychotherapy I do with people. And I see the truth of Santayana’s wisdom in our communal lives. It’s at the heart of the possibilities of healing in our country and our world.
So as things have heated up with terrorism, mass shootings, and more … I have worked even harder, and even deeper for myself, with my clients, and with those who read my blog and my website … to remember the past that is calling us to heal.
With the threats from North Korea, memories have surfaced for me from my senior year in high school. Memories that I never really forgot. They just weren’t foreground. I remember being sent home from school in the heat of the Cuban Missile Crisis – don’t know if that was during or at the end of the school day. I know we were supposed to go right home, where it was supposedly going to be safe. That was like ducking under our desks for an air raid drill.
But a few of my closest friends and I went to a nearby playground, sat on the ground, and talked.
I don’t remember our saying we were scared. I don’t remember our saying we were scared because we lived right outside Washington, D.C., and were afraid we would be killed by a missile. I know we were both … because I knew myself and I knew my friends. And because of what we spoke about. We talked about what we meant to each other. We talked about what we loved about life. We talked about what we didn’t want to lose. We may have even spoken about what we wanted to do in the future – meaning if we were still okay after the crisis.
And then we went home. I went home with my heart full. I went home deeply thankful for my dear friends.
This memory keeps coming back as things continue developing in our country and our world today. And each time it returns, my heart opens ever wider … I share with people I’m close to what they mean to me … I share with people what I love about life … I share with people what I want to do in the future to help us be okay. And by doing so, I invite them to share back with me.
I originally wrote a version of this post for my high school class newsletter. One of my classmates shared back: she “has been surprised to learn that her friends who grew up in other parts of the country have almost no memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a news item to them, not a threat to their lives.” For us, it was a definite threat to our lives.
I hope you will take this to heart …
When something is a threat to your life.
When something is a news item to you, but a threat to someone else’s life.
When something is not remembered, and as a result gets repeated in your personal history and your family, national, and global histories.
When it is time to do your part in the healing.
When you search for a way to do that healing in the deepest way possible.
I hope you will take this to heart and will feel my sharing this with you to be an invitation to you to share back with me. It could help in the healing, and it could bring us closer in these challenging times.
© Judith Barr, 2018