Waiting and/or forgetting.

When I first read Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, I was touched. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which one to do is the worst kind of suffering.” Today, I was just sitting here and thinking (just sitting and thinking has to be a long time hobby of mine) and it suddenly occurred to me how much time we spend waiting or forgetting. Waiting for that text after a date, waiting to graduate, waiting for the right one, waiting for lunch, waiting to get off from work…that’s a lot of waiting. What about forgetting? More precisely, trying to forget. Trying to forget the lost love, a scary movie, sharp words, pile of dirty dishes, bills…lot of forgetting right there.

It is established that there is a lot of waiting and forgetting involved in this little gig we call life. So, what comes after all this waiting and forgetting? Coelho emphasizes the painful parts of both waiting and forgetting and more painful aspect of indecisiveness. Coelho has been one of my favorite authors (AEB me reading almost all of his books), and the mentioned quote has always touched me, specially in times when it has been painful to wait or to forget or not knowing which one to do, but today, it seems to me that there is another aspect of that quote. An aspect which took some “just sitting here and thinking”. Sure, waiting is painful- I can’t wait to travel the world, to run for an office, to graduate from nursing school, to go to places I’ve never heard of, to live a joyous and happy life. Forgetting is painful too- forgetting warm summer as winter approaches, forgetting long conversations with now estranged friends, forgetting home as you go out in the world to succeed. But the other aspect I have been talking about is a positive aspect associated with waiting and forgetting. All this painful waiting and forgetting is a pathway to getting to the destinations you can’t wait to get to. “Oh the places you’ll go.” Waiting and forgetting also imply patience, change and forgiveness. It takes a lot of patience to wait, and lot of forgiveness to forget, all while accepting a change.

I saw a statue called “Mental blocks” in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a big head made from blocks. It said, “Build the blocks to block your emotions and emotional trauma. Don’t build the blocks to block out growth and development”. I think the implied meaning of Coelho’s  quote is exactly the same thing: forget the emotional trauma no matter how painful it is and work towards growth and development no matter how difficult it is. I am awed by how a Portuguese author and Sue Ellen Brown, an artist from Alabama helped me understand the mechanism of waiting and forgetting. Here’s to painful waiting, forgetting or not knowing which one to do…all for the better.

“Mental Blocks” by Sue Ellen Brown at Health Sciences Museum, Birmingham, Alabama.


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