The Delete Key


I did not have the benefit of the use of a typewriter or computer for college. All schoolwork and exams were handwritten. Grad school was a different picture because I did have access to a computer. Although I have had limited exposure to a typewriter in my life, I realize that one of the many differences that I could readily pinpoint between a typewriter and a computer is the way in which one can correct errors. For those of us who have had to use the typewriter for school, work, or any other business, correcting an error was often the most frustrating because one could often see traces of a correction. The computer, on the other hand, is such that one can press the delete button, go back a space and redo, and thus correct errors without any trace.

When I was a little boy, I knew that my father was feuding with his brother. I do not recall how I learned about this feud, but I knew that he did not visit my father’s house, nor did my father go to his. In fact, four or so years before my father’s passing, his residence was on the same street as my uncle’s office and I am sure that there were days when they saw each other but did not say hello, or when they simply ignored one another.


I have no idea what caused this bitter feud, but it lingered for an awfully long time. Prior to my father’s passing and while he was on his death bed, he sent for my uncle on several occasions. I have no idea why he sent for him, but I am very sure he wanted to make amends with him. Remember what Paul said in Romans: “If it is possible, in so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.” Unfortunately, my father was not able to reconcile with his brother before he passed away on the morning of September 17, 1985.    


I can never tell how my uncle felt long after my father’s passing, but I knew him to be a reflective person and so I am sure he thought about it and, more especially, about the missed opportunity of having to reconcile with his brother. Sometimes we burden ourselves with carrying anger, disappointment, pain, hurt to a point where we lose sight of the big picture. We hold on to things that do not, in the end, make any dent of difference in our lives. Why are you still carrying with you what you can delete without any trace? Why are you holding on to stuff which you can flush out of your life without any consequence or injure to you? 


There is a story of a geisha girl who was going to an important program, and she was decked up in her best attire. On the road to her venue, there was a big puddle, and she was afraid that her dress would get soiled. Suddenly, she saw two monks coming that way, but since Buddhist vows do not permit them to even look towards women, she did not expect any help from those ascetics. To her great surprise, the elder of the two celibate men came over to her. Without speaking a single word, he picked her up and carried her across that water. 


His younger colleague was shocked beyond words, but since they had taken a vow of silence for ten days, he said nothing. In due course, when their 'silence period' ended, the younger disciple went to his senior, and vented his anguish and dismay at the incident which had seemed to have bother him night and day.


In his reply to the younger monk, who had been burning with rage within him, the older monk said, "Yes, I did touch her, but I dropped her as soon as possible. You seem to be still carrying her."

Embedded within this story is a great deal of wisdom. The older monk taught two lessons to his younger friend:


One: 'if a rule prevents you from doing good, its violation is not a sin’ and

Two: 'it is good to deliberately forget whatever is not worthy remembering.’

The question then is, what prevents you from doing good? What is worthy of your remembering? What is worthy of being flushed away, deleted without any trace? Whenever I remember the story of my dad and my uncle - especially on a day like this - I am reminded of a lost opportunity of friendship, camaraderie, and pure fellowship between brothers. I can only imagine all the possibilities that could have enriched their lives. 


In all honesty, to grow - to make fellowship happen - we need to be able to press the delete key. Press the delete key, for it frees you to be the good that you can be. Press the delete key, for not only does it make life less burdensome, but it frees us to start all over again, knowing that any new beginning is a rebirth of who we are meant to be.


Manny.

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