Learning to Forgive and Let Go of the Past
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
The song Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen resonated with me in high school. The sheer energy and enthusiasm Bruce had to leave home was so relatable at the time. I. Just. Wanted. To. Leave. My. Hometown. And start over, free from past failures and expectations. I wanted to be free to be true self with out judgement.
In Bruce Springsteen's new Broadway Show on Netflix he reflects on his life and his songs and this quote has stuck in my mind.
"Now everybody, everybody has a love-hate relationship with their hometown. It's just built into the equation of growing up. If you take me, I'm Mr. Born to Run. I'm Mr. Thunder F****** Road. I was born to run, not to stay. My home, New Jersey - it's a death trap. It's a suicide rap. Listen to the lyrics, alright. I had to get out, I gotta hit the highway, I'm a roadrunner man, I got the white line fever in my veins, I am gonna bring my girl and I have had enough, of the shit that this place dishes out. I am gonna run, run, run, and I'm - well I'm never coming back currently live ten minutes from my hometown. But uh, born to come back, or uh - who would've bought that shit? Nobody""- Bruce Springsteen
The last week has been longest I've spent in Natick since my Mom passed away 5 Christmases ago. Since graduating high school, coming back to Natick for more than a couple days has bummed me out. When I finished high school I felt like a complete failure and wanted to get as far away as possible to reinvent myself. My high school sports career was a joke compared to the high standards of my sports oriented family, I underperformed in school, failed with girls, drank way too much to deal with the pain of these things and others, and got addicted to online poker when I got injured in basketball my junior year. Basically every mistake you could make in high school to sabotage your potential, I made it, all while feeling deeply ashamed and trying to numb the pain with partying. I told people I was going to College of Charleston for school because "I hated the cold" but I really just hated my identity and failings.
Then after having some success in Charleston, I came back to Natick for 5 weeks to watch my Mom leave the earth. Every time I come back to Natick for more than 48 hours, I'm forced to confront the darkest times in my life head on. For years, I blamed Natick for these times --- toxic sports parent culture, inept coaches, small town politics, the public education system, Catholic Guilt, etc. When I get back here, I want to be anywhere else in the world. My whole life since graduating high school being in the town has made me feel like a failure again.
This last week in Natick has been different though. Being back in Natick for the last week, I've felt incredible gratitude growing up here and even more at peace with my high school years. It's a nice place to grow up. I'm blessed to have so many lifelong Natick friends and to be raised to be Massachusetts tough. While we were running ragged at Longfellow Sports Club wreaking havoc between the sauna, steam room basketball court, and pool other kids in the world were being put to work so their family can survive.
It's only a failure if you don't learn from the experience. In some ways, my high school failures have driven me to be a better person and continually "kill" that metaphorically weak person each year.
I would be lying though, if I said I didn't think all the time about how to structure my future children's lives so they don't have to experience some of the avoidable pain I went through.