Saturday, December 29, 2012

Forgive but don't Forget

An observant reader responded to my last blog with an important point, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget; I know he’ll do it again.”

I agree with her. She obviously knows from experience. And yet, what about that popular saying, forgive and forget? Let us take look. We agree on forgiving; a grudge benefits no one; it’s nothing but a heavy burden on us.

So forgive wholeheartedly. It will free and ease your mind and soul. However, do not forget—you’ve learned a valuable lesson that you want to remember.

If the subject of your grudge is a person, make sure you distinguish between two types of causes—was it an inadvertent incident, such as dropping your favorite vase, or is it someone’s regular behavior that is upsetting you?

Forgive and forget the incident. Yet someone’s regular behavior is a different matter. The chances are slim that a person will change his or her behavior. We all know how difficult it is to alter our fundamental habits, weaknesses and predilections. It’s a fact we need to accept.

You probably have friends that have separated and moved back together again—repeatedly. They forgave and forgot, and did not take into account what drove them apart in the first place. Mere promises are not enough, however earnest and sincere they may be meant. A promise is something we’d like to do, but not necessarily what we’re able to carry through.

Do not forget to include yourself on your agenda of forgiveness. Suppose you answered your cell phone while driving to the mall and got a pricey ticket (it’s around $200 I found out the hard way). Pay it, take a driver’s class and then forgive yourself, but do NOT forget it. You don’t want to get another ticket; more important, you want to drive safely.

To quote Alexander Pope: “To err is human, to forgive, divine,” or more down to earth as Mother Theresa put it: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.” And here is the most appropriate by Thomas Szasz: “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the na├»ve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”

Best wishes for a healthy and rewarding 2013,


Friday, December 21, 2012


Nothing can mar our happiness more than bearing a grudge. It weighs us down like dark, gray clouds heavy with condensation. 

Once a year we celebrate the Season of Good Will toward all men, and even though it may be hard to let go, it’s worth every bit of effort. 


No heavier burden than to carry a grudge.
Let go, don’t judge,
Life can be tough for all of us.
Have hope, don’t fuss,
We all, who walk this planet Earth,
Sometimes forget our higher worth,

Happy holidays,
From my book, In Search of the Good Life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Season of Good Will

There’s something uncannily cheerful about the Christmas season; it’s impossible to escape it. Everywhere colorful lights, merry music and happy faces. It’s a Season of Good Will.

And it’s quite contagious. If we’re lucky, it’s contagious enough to affect even our hard-nosed politicians—to buckle down, forget their party righteousness, and focus on the good of the country. It’s what non-politicians would call cooperating.

A few months ago, when election campaigns and politics started to get to me, and my hair turned grayer by the hour, I decided to make an early New Year’s resolution. Instead of getting upset about politics I’d switch my thoughts to GRATEFULNESS for not being a politician. It worked wonders; I’m grateful all the time.

May your thoughts be happy ones,


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Joys of Volunteering

It’s one of life’s great blessings to be in a position to give rather than having to take. And it requires so little. We need not be rich, have great strength, big talent or an abundance of time. All we need is a kind, free spirit that is willing to help. Many a person is less fortunate than we are.

There are no monetary rewards of course, yet volunteering makes the soul rejoice. Aside from that, any interaction with people creates an endless variety of experiences; some of them can be quite amusing. Let me recount one that rather lacked what you might call the right spirit.

I’m on the board of managers of our condominium. There are five of us—hard-working volunteers. But once in a while someone gets on the board with a personal agenda. Aggie was one of them. She had hardly been elected when she requested $200 for supplies—paper (lots of it), stationary, pens, a stapler…. “They’re absolutely essential,” she insisted. “Otherwise I can’t be efficient and effective.” We asked her to submit an itemized list so we could mull it over.

Two weeks later she requested reimbursement for two projects she had undertaken.  One was for getting some 25 empty boxes from Safeway across the street. “We’ll need them when our office gets painted,” she pointed out. Eighty dollars for old boxes? We could have picked them up ourselves, for free.

But did she really pay someone? I asked our faithful custodian, “Max, did you get all those boxes for us?” “Yes, Ma’am,” he said. “Aggie asked me to.” “Did she pay you?” “Of course not, Ma’am; I did it during working hours,” he assured me.

The other request was for $185 for someone she had hired to test our intercom.  After much prodding she gave us the person’s name and city, a Mary Cushing in Walnut Creek. But why test the intercom? It works fine, and when it doesn’t, AT&T fixes it. Since the check was to be made out to Aggie, I decided to call all the Mary Cushings in W.C.  The fourth Mary C. knew Aggie and I cautiously proceeded, “Then you know her nice condo here in Alameda,” I said. “I don’t,” came her answer. “I’ve never been to Alameda. I know her only from work.” According to Aggie, Mary Cushing had called some 200 residents on our intercom from our various entry doors to test the system.

I wish we had asked Aggie how she defines volunteering. It might have enriched the Webster Dictionary, but probably impoverished those in need. Our president gave her two options—to resign from the board, or to answer a few questions during a full assembly. She resigned.

Too bad—no rejoicing for Aggies soul, nor money for her coffers.