Never Forgive Your Ghosts

I’m back, and I’m hoping to revamp this blog a little bit.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of learning. As I hit my senior year of college, I’m overwhelmed with the fear that I’ve been fulfilled neither intellectually nor socially, leaving me unprepared for what’s next. I don’t remember any of the vocabulary lists, textbook questions, or research papers that I was forced to pore over the first three years of undergrad. Perhaps it’s just that I’m a standard victim of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, or maybe it’s that I’m an expert crammer. But if there’s anything that being abroad taught me, it was that the lessons we learn from the people we meet are usually indelible.

One lesson I learned as of late – in fact, one I’m learning right this second – is that the platitude “forgive but don’t forget” is terribly misguided. It should be “don’t forgive and don’t forget.”

When people hurt us, they usually first recede into the background of our everyday, like phantoms harassing us from the past. We often long to be liberated of these phantoms. Initially, we hope that they’ll somehow materialize into people once again and say all of the right things to redress the wounds. Over time, when we grow to accept that they might never come back into our lives again, we decide that the best solution is complacency. It’s easiest to just forgive them for their wrongdoings, “take the high road,” and move on, taking along the lessons they taught us.

But forgiving always begets forgetting. If we forgive our ghosts, we will forget them, and with them, all of those lessons.

Being unforgiving doesn’t mean being mean. It means holding people accountable. It means giving people the chance that they deserve and not going back on your word should they fail to meet the initial expectations – to protect both yourself, the other person, and others.

I pledge to be unforgiving and unforgetting, and with that, always learning, always keeping those lessons with me.

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