What If "Letting It Go" Doesn't Work?

Sometimes it's not about letting it go, it's about learning how to live with it... and learning how to grow from it.

Elie Wiesel was the Hungarian-born author of 57 books, a professor, and the 1986 winner of The Nobel Peace Prize.

He was also a holocaust survivor.

When he was 15, the Nazis rounded up Elie's family, along with all the other Jewish people in his Transylvania town, and deported them to Auschwitz.

Immediately upon arrival, the deportees were forced to leave the last of all their personal belongings on the train and were split into two groups, male and female. Without a touch, a whispered goodbye or a shared look, that was the last time devout Elie ever saw his mother, his sisters and, for a long time, God.

The next person Elie found himself standing in front of was Josef Mengele: the "angel of death" and psychotic "doctor" who quickly determined the fate of each person who arrived at Auschwitz with a wave of his baton to the right or to the left. Elie and his father were waved to the left.

As they were forcibly marched past Mengele with some others, they thought for sure that they were being sent to burn. Elie writes:

"Not far from us flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load - little children. Babies! Yes I saw it- saw it with my own eyes... those children in the flames. (Is it surprising that I could not sleep after that? Sleep had fled from my eyes.)"

The children were alive as they were dumped into the flames...

That was just the beginning. To be waved to the left was to actually pass the crematoriums and end up in the labor camp.

Elie spent the next year trying to keep himself and his father alive. His first book, Night, chronicles the unfathomable horrors of their journey.

That's not something you ever "let go", but it was something people learned how to live with.

Your past might not be something you need to "let go".

It might be something you need to learn how to live with instead.

And maybe, in learning how to live with what you have done or what was done to you, you can learn from it and make the world a better place.

And make yourself a better person. Like Elie did. Because if Elie could live with it, and learn how to live better, maybe we can too.

"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude of gratitude." - Elie Wiesel

Something to think about as you walk into a new year, a new decade, and, hopefully, your best you.


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