The cycle of forgetting and remembering

“Funny how much of life feels like remembering & forgetting & remembering again. Perhaps if we did not forget what was essential we would miss out on the great AHA! & joy of all those moments of remembering.” ~Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The quote above is one from a Facebook status that Oriah posted quite some time ago. I saved it because it sums up my experience so well, and I was reassured to know that I’m not the only one who seems to keep forgetting those essential things I’ve learned along the way, requiring me to keep learning the same lessons over and over again.

I was reminded of this quote the last few days as I’ve been going back through and looking at old posts on my blog. It’s a bit embarrassing sometimes to see how many times I keep having to relearn some of the same lessons.

In all fairness, some of these lessons are ones that I am not re-learning from scratch; I’m deepening into the lesson by learning to live it in new ways. I’m continuing the process of bringing head knowledge down to heart level so I can embody it more fully.

But there are plenty of lessons that I feel like I’m learning for the first time only to discover that I wrote about learning that very same lesson six months, or a year, or two years earlier. It frustrates me that I don’t hold onto these lessons better.

On the other hand, Oriah has a good point about the benefits of forgetting. Those moments of breakthrough when I experience the “AHA!” of deep recognition of a truth or an insight are moments of great joy. Even when I realize in the moment that it’s a lesson I’ve learned before, there is such spaciousness and freedom in coming back to the lesson again, of realizing that I can lay down the burden of old patterns I am carrying and choose to do things a new way.

I’ve been learning all over again lately about letting go as I work through these questions about my future. This is one of those lessons that I keep thinking I’ve grasped … only to find out that I have only seen the smallest tip of the iceberg of what it means and how it works and how to do it sooner rather than later.

I continue to be amazed (and frustrated and embarrassed) by how long it often takes me to get to the place of even realizing that I need to let go. And then from there, I still have to get to the place of actually doing the letting go (again). It’s an ongoing cycle of forgetting and remembering and forgetting again.

And yet, I am encouraged to find that I remember more quickly with each cycle, and gap between remembering and acting gets smaller with each cycle, too. Best of all, I spend less and less time on beating myself up for forgetting each time around. I’m too busy remembering again the joy and the freedom that comes from the letting go.

And for this perfectionist-in-recovery, that’s some pretty awesome progress!

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

4 thoughts on “The cycle of forgetting and remembering

  1. KJ,

    I believe lessons take practice and even if we “get” it on one level another circumstance allows us to “get” it again in an entirely new way. I like your reference to deepening the lesson each time and I think it is a great description of life lessons overall. I believe the lessons we learn are like college courses, each new level you reach there are new things to learn, but not before a review of the previous material. Thank you for sharing your journey. It is helpful and encouraging to those of us that feel the same way! 🙂

  2. Loved your post. I, too, have learned lessons intellectually only to have to learn them all over again later via the heart. No healing comes through intellectual understanding alone. You aren’t alone in having to revisit lessons more than once or twice! I think many of us need to revisit lessons multiple times as we never actually ‘got’ the message the first time. It’s only through subsequent visits to the lesson we internalize the teaching via our heart-the place where true healing happens.

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