In Charleston, SC, there was a lawyer several years older than I and, in that land of separate and unequal social strata, several rungs above me. Unlike almost every other person of his social class, he could have cared less. We became acquainted because our social circles overlapped. He had more pithy and wise sayings than I could ever hope to recall. One of them was to the effect that all it took was a resentment and the desire to alter other peoples’ lives for one person to effect change.
While that might be taken in a negative context, the lawyer meant it to be positively understood. We can help bring better days to our personal community and the world beyond if and when we are willing to expend positive energy. I recall one particular case where someone had moved to Charleston from another part of America thousands of miles away. They didn’t like how things were done by the locals. They wanted a particular part of their life to be as it had been in their former region of the country. They got to work, got others involved and instituted change in the community which continues to constructively affect the Charleston area.
Bully for them.
There have always been those among us who suffer from massive doses of touchiness. In their childish obstinacy they are convinced that the rest of us are actually supposed to care about their rages and resentments. That is not healthy for them or us. Some of those spiritually sick people might gradually come to the realization that nobody wishes to be dragged down by their unholy malady. Personally, the best I can do is pray that those spiritually sick individuals take themselves off somewhere quiet and come to the realization that it really is okay for them to do whatever they must to become more spiritually and emotionally mature.
Not all will wish to do that. Those who decide that they wish to live healthier lives, to become better human beings for their own welfare and the world, are capable of doing much good.
All of that is the very human stuff of life that we all deal with on a daily basis.
Take yourself out of that for a few moments. Think differently. Rather than imagining how we negatively view resentments, I want you to look at life from my point of view.
See what I see.
Go beyond our definition of the word resentment meaning to feel anger about mistreatment. This definition has not changed in over four hundred years.
In Old French the word meant to feel again.
That’s all. Neither positive nor negative. A resentment, therefore, can also be when we think happily of something which occurred in our lives.
When I wrote the recent Middling Ages articles, I was frequently stopped mid-sentence by my resentments. I was feeling again the warmth of a sunny day I recalled from hundreds of years ago. I quietly laughed many times about the things that took place hundreds or even thousands of years ago. I must confess, to be honest, that my friends and I have never been the glummest lot to walk the earth. We have admittedly been called upon to perform serious and even horrifyingly frightening tasks, but when our work was over it was on to good times for us.
Nothing is more valuable in making a good day better than a laugh or two.
So here I sat a few weeks ago, in a strange city in a strange country, writing words I could never have imagined I would write. Writing for you and me gave me the gift of clearly viewing the past in my present.
It does not have make sense to anyone other than myself. However, I carry through this life the expectations of other people and society in what I am supposed to say and do. And, if I may be so bold, reliving those days, feeling again those happy and sad emotions, make me a better person.
They are also my treasure. What we each feel, what we have each experienced and get to come back to in our lives, is wealth beyond compare.
So what if other people carry around their resentments like bags of mine pilings? If someone else wishes to be dragged down by their experiences rather than lift themselves up, there is precious little we can do about the matter. What we can do is move forward with our lives.
Every opportunity you have to feel again the joy and happiness of days past, lunge for it like a child jumping onto a merry go round. Find your horse. Jump on. Ride for the sheer delight of being alive.