I have relocated living quarters 8 times in the past 6 years. The physical process of moving is no fun, especially if you’re severely depressed at the time. Still, I find the emotional process of moving on more difficult than physical relocation.
For me, the phrase “moving on” signals a process of letting go of things like guilt and anger, forgiving myself and others, allowing myself to be human and make mistakes, refusing to dwell on past regrets, and learning how to change in positive ways. It means examining the ways I become attached to less-than-ideal behaviors and feelings and learning how to put those things behind me. It is hard. I am the kind of person who becomes attached to everything–people, things, ideas, feelings… even sins. I want to hold on tightly to everything that is part of me.
I love the song “Moving On” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. My favorite passage from the song is,
I chose, and my world was shaken–so what?
The choice may have been mistaken
but choosing was not.
You have to move on.
What I love about these lines are their emphasis on choice. I am often paralyzed by choice. I agonize over the many decisions in my life; I often believe that if I just think about things long enough, the “right” choice or the “best” choice will make itself apparent. I am trying to learn to accept that I will make imperfect decisions because I am an imperfect person. I am learning how to say “that was the best choice I could have made under those circumstances, and in the future, I will know to make an even better choice.” I am trying to learn how to see choices as part of a fluid and shifting horizon of possibility, rather than as closed events that will inevitably tie me down to regrets.
I am learning how not to apply my standards of perfectionism to my past. Instead of regretting past decisions, I am trying focus on the endless possibilities of the future. I am slowly learning how to let go of the pains hidden deep in my heart that have stemmed from the hurtful and careless decisions of others. If I accept my own humanity, I need to learn how to do the same for others.
Whenever I go through a move, I always end up carting around more stuff than I should–I have a hard time letting go of things I secretly know I will never use again. When I am able to go through at least some of the boxes that are inevitably laying around and discard some of the papers and other junk that has built up, a heady sense of relief and freedom inevitably follows. I am able to let go of things that I am no longer responsible for, that I will no longer need to worry about or dwell on. When I am able to go through the same process emotionally, the same kind of feeling follows. “Moving on” allows me to not be as constrained by past emotions and regrets as I contemplate the opportunities awaiting me; it expands the possibilities of choice.
If only making choices were easier.