Today, we’ll explore that old adage “time heals all wounds.” It sounds cliche, and we often don’t want to hear it when we are in the throes of emotional pain, but its role in helping to put some distance between our feelings and mindset in times of struggle and the way forward out of those uncomfortable feelings is huge. Time is intimately tied to recovery, perspective, and, ultimately, growth after struggle. I also like to think about how the person saying “time heals all wounds” to us is usually trying to comfort us. Maybe they haven’t found the right words at the right time, but they cared enough to try. That’s powerful.
Unpredictable Life Lessons
Have you ever had that feeling right before you go on vacation that something could go wrong? It’s a few days before you’re about to leave and you’re packing, planning, and plotting for good times, but in the back of your mind, something’s not right. Something could go terribly wrong. Or worse yet, something might happen to you. You might get sick. Someone might call with bad news. You might miss your flight.
I get these thoughts before my one big vacation of the year. I’ve researched it to death, planned out packed itineraries and tons of adventures while repeating to myself that I’ll get some rest. Oh yeah, I’ll plan some rest and relaxation somewhere in there—isn’t there a slot on page 3 of my itinerary? But right before I’m set to leave, I sometimes have those thoughts of dread and worry. I push them aside and tell myself that I’m worrying over nothing, and probably 99.9% of the time, that’s true.
Why do I do that? Why is it that the things ,we worry about almost never come true, while the things we never imagined could or should happen, are the things that do happen? Those curveballs cause the most pain. They can interrupt our vision of happiness and peace, especially if we are clinging on tight to the idea that happiness is an external state, controlled by external factors. If we believe that things around us make us happy, more than internal factors, like our mindset and self-talk, we can hand over our happiness to circumstance and chance. That won’t work.
Yet, without some of this pain, I don’t think we would relish the good times as much. Would those “cocktails with a view” that we are dreaming about hit as sweetly if we hadn’t had the rough times at work these past few months? I don’t think so.
While I’m on vacation, you can usually find me in the water. If I get my way, I’m snorkeling several times a day for hours. While I’m there chasing octopuses (if you don’t know by now, they are my favorite animal), parrot fish, and other assorted beauties, I take rests to float above and just listen to my breath. That peaceful in and out. And over the last few years, I’ve learned to be as mindful as possible to take that experience and tuck it away in my sensory memory system.
Back at home, I can call up the image and feelings associated with those snorkeling sessions. I love them for sure, but I think I love them more because they aren’t something I do every day. The scarcity of that pleasure is woven into the depth of my experience. If I could go snorkeling every day year-round, I probably would be happier, perhaps a little more pruney looking, too, from spending so much time in the salt water, but eventually, I would find myself growing stale with snorkeling. I can’t imagine it now, but I think if it were a daily occurrence, I would. And so I must accept that some part of my pleasure and happiness in that moment is related to the juxtaposition between that happy state and my other not-so-happy ones.
It's Yin and Yang, good and bad, blessings and curses. We know opposites play out in our lives, and we go through periods of pain and trouble. Some days, it’s true torment and angst, and we don’t know if we’ll make it. We focus on the basics—the breath, food, and water, getting from point A to point B. I’ve noticed that one of two things usually happens. See if you have experienced this. Either something else shifts in the universe, and the series of events that we were dealing with realign or change in some way that eases up the pain, or time simply passes, and we forget the strength of those bad feelings we had. We give them up, and they don’t return. We may think about them again months later, but time has created a safe distance. We can quickly put the memory out of our minds and move on. Time can be a great healer. That’s why we’ve turned the phrase “Time Heals All Wounds” into a cliche. We’ve said it over and over again, but it rings true.
Time makes decisions for us by passing by and bringing new options, new people, and new experiences into play. Do you know the band Green Day? This pop-punk-rock band is known for their frenetic pace and no-holds-bar energy, but the song Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) is one of their softer songs, a ballad. It captures the idea of time directing us. With a guitar (and lovely violin in the background), Billie Joe sings “Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go. So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why. It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time.” Then, there’s mindfulness here too, when he sings, “so take the photographs and still frames in your mind. Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time.” The last line of the chorus you probably know “I hope you had the time of your life.” Have a listen—head to the LTVF Season One music video playlist on my YouTube channel. It’s a great track.
Before time ticks past and rescues us from our misery, or directs our decisions, we'll have to sit with the pain or struggle. [Check out this episode on sitting with shitty feelings.] During that time, if we can, we should take action to try to change events; other times, we have to wait for consequences to come forth. We may never be quite sure which action to take, but a transition usually has to happen, and transitions can take some time.
When you can look back at the painful time and not feel so much of the sting, you know that that particular pain won’t hurt you again in quite the same way. When good times come, you’ll recognize them quickly, invite them eagerly into your life, count blessings over them, and relish the joyful feelings. But can you have those deep joyful moments without the sorrowful ones? Is today’s joy wrapped up in some way in yesterday’s sorrow? That’s what this poem is about. I call this poem, Prickly Dark Pins.
Prickly Dark Pins
by Jill Hodge
Yesterday was dark.
I couldn’t see thru.
Red velvet blinders
Blocking my view.
Cursing the world,
The raven swoops in
unrest, half-past and late.
Talons grasp on,
tears scatter like dew drops
on petals at dawn.
The well runs dry,
The breath replies,
Deep, heavy sighs.
A tale of woe it’s time to tell.
Woe is here, it tells a tale.
But Mount Everest never asked to be scaled.
Should I, should I, should I do this?
Gravity pulls, down to the abyss.
Never did I ask,
Hoping for certain, choking on facts.
Another day passes, new trouble, it’s knocking,
But slowly old torment is lulled asleep, I’m rocking.
Perspective is changing,
widening like a river mouth.
In the cold, dark water,
Troubled visions siphoned out.
Clear pools, a new form they show,
Ripples echo, an accordion flow.
Bob at the top, a rising surprise
In its place,
An unimagined prize.
I am master, on a throne, and with each breath,
My world is changing from
Darkest blue to amber light and back again to good sweet night.
I overturned the world,
I did that.
From torment to tranquil,
Had feelings, and sat.
Tomorrow’s promise to keep, I’m not privy to,
But in life’s earthly spin
Sage lessons are held tight by prickly, dark pins.
You can tell I love water. I’ll take it in any form—pools, oceans, hot showers, steam rooms, winding creaks. When I feel overwhelmed, I dream of water, which soothes me. Do you have a sensory experience that calms you or puts you in a mood where you can reflect on your life?
Sensory Delights: Soothing Actions to Mute the Pain
In this poem, time in the cool, dark water changes my perspective. It’s like the sensory experience overtakes the logical thinking mind (and thus, the body is taken away to a more calm space). When I’m snorkeling, I listen to my breath go in and out through the breathing tube and follow along down below where these beautiful, odd, magical creatures swim past me. In these moments, we can be taken to another place—physically, emotionally, spiritually—and that distance gives us a breather from our problems. A good sensory experience like this can put enough space between your pain and your heart to help you see that these hard times teachYou will feel proud of yourself once you’re through the forest of thorns you valuable lessons. You might like walking in the snow, driving in the rain, dancing to beats with deep bass, or smelling a candle that perfumes the air. When you have wounds to heal, look around for a pleasurable sensory experience to take you out of your present moment for just a bit.
Today, give yourself some love for managing to fight through the prickly pins of life. You will feel proud of yourself once you’re through the forest of thorns. Your first steps outside the dark forest will feel like heaven on earth. You will know the joy partly because you have known the sorrow. You have journeyed through it and come out on the other side. You are the master. Own it, remember it, and call it forth. Perhaps sensory delights, perhaps time to heal, perhaps counting blessings. But remember that joy can come after sorrow and that there’s a balance between the good times we want more of and the bad things we want to let go of.
Journal Prompts on Sensory Pleasures & the Passage of Time
Today, I’ve talked about a few related topics—time healing wounds, the dichotomy between feeling pain and finding pleasure, and the endurance we must have to sit with uncomfortable feelings until they pass and we transition to a new space in life. We are destined to move forward from this place; time ordains that, so we should use our time wisely to help fortify ourselves against the coming storms.
Here are some journal prompts to reflect on how you will process feelings while you wait for your situation to change:
I hope you find joy once you escape the forest of thorns. May you feel empowered as you handle your struggles and find moments of solace and clarity when the struggles subside. Please subscribe and share the podcast (or this newsletter) with friends and family who may need a brighter perspective on this particular day.
Until next time, don’t forget to stay on the bright side of the beat. 🌞
Music: My thanks to all the musicians who make incredible music and have the courage to put it out into the world. All music for my podcast is sourced and licensed for use via Soundstripe.
Songs in this podcast episode:
Punch Clock by Nu Alkemi$t; Winning Streak by JeesGuy; Vision by DeHartmann; Pyaar Kee Seemaen by Cast of Characters
LTVF Season One Music Playlist: Check out the songs that inspire me, and connect with artists from many genres who add to our collective, human soundtrack.
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