“The blessing was from a young child’s lips, but it was the first that Oliver had ever heard invoked upon his head; and through the struggles and sufferings, and troubles and changes, of his after life, he never once forgot it.”
“In fact, if it had not been for a good-hearted turnpike-man, and a benevolent old lady, Oliver’s troubles would have been shortened by the very same process which has put an end to his mother’s; in other words, he would most assuredly have fallen dead upon the king’s highway. But the turnpike-man gave him a meal of bread and cheese: and the old lady, who had a shipwrecked grandson wandering barefoot in some distant part of the earth, took pity upon the poor orphan, and gave him what little she could afford—and more—with such kind and gentle words, and such tears of sympathy and compassions, that they sank deeper into Oliver’s soul, than all the suffering she had ever undergone. “ – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I believe that these two paragraphs afford us insight into how Oliver was able to maintain his sunny attitude and sweetness despite his life in a poorhouse, his being sold as a slave, and his dealings with Fagin and Bill Sykes: It was not the child’s blessing, nor the old lady’s pity.
All of us experience both beautiful and ugly dealings with others. Many hold on to the negative experiences or “Affect,” and allow them to darken their lives. “My cheder rebbi was such a monster that I decided I would not live as a Jew!” “My parents never had time for me, and I still feel unimportant.” “I once did business with an Orthodox Jew, and it was such a miserable experience that I will never have anything to do with someone who is Orthodox.”
Others, as Oliver, choose to remember the beautiful gestures. Their lives have all sorts of magnificent colors expressed in the way they deal with others.
I have found that when someone asks my forgiveness that I am presented with Oliver’s choice: Will I hold onto the negative? Or, will I choose to remember the positive and grasp all the beautiful moments I have shared with others?
I choose Oliver’s path. I treasure all the small acts of kindness and love I have been privileged to receive. I happily shed the negative. I hold onto the goat that goes to God. I let the other goat be tossed far way from my life and memory.
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