Monday, August 11, 2008

An End to Remorse

William Butler Yeats was a mystical poet. His words below surprised me because I’d only seen the last three lines before. It was on a Mary Engelbreit page-a-day calendar. Typical affirmative fodder. But the verse is so much more powerful with its first two lines intact.

When such as I cast out remorse,
So great a sweetness flows into the breast.
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything.
Everything we look upon is blest.

W. B. Yeats

According to the OED, a wordsmith’s favorite book, remorse means a feeling of deep regret or repentance. It comes from Latin roots meaning biting, as in painful. The key to casting out remorse, and following Poet Yeats’ wise instructions, is revealed in its etymology.

Think of the practice of biting into, say, a brilliant, orange carrot. A happy thing at lunchtime for you; perhaps not so happy for the carrot—I couldn’t say.

Same with remorse. What we do when we indulge in remorse is bite off a memory of an event, or behavior, or choice, or word, or deed that we now wish we’d done differently. Check out the tiny syllable at the beginning of the word: re-. It means again. So not only do we chew on the memory, but we chow down on it, biting again and again and again.

To cast out remorse, beloved, quit biting into it! And letting it bite into you!

As yourself some questions about the experience:

Did I do the best I could with what I knew at the moment?
Could I have done better? Then?
What can I learn from this experience for the future?

Then CAST OUT REMORSE. Let it go. Relax, and let the sweetness of life flow into you.

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has wishes that things had gone differently. So?

So, cast out remorse, let sweetness arise, then laugh, sing and let the blessings of everything make you blest.

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