“I smiled without realizing it, this must be how we start over”.

This sentence happened to me by chance, on the internet, with the same randomness that walking in a meadow we find a four-leaf clover or sometimes we find ourselves surprised in front of the silhouette of a beautiful unexpected panorama. It is one of those catchy sentences that people like me, a few words full of meaning and, more importantly, words that seem to be the script, in verses of poetry, of my life, at least of the current phases of my life.

Start over. Imperatives such as “resume the path” or “change direction” have always been present in life. Usually I didn’t have any difficulty comparing myself with them, on the contrary, I won’t hide it, often starting from scratch and in a completely new context, was even a source of excitement. But starting over is not always accompanied by such a positive charge. Often starting over, on the contrary, is surrounded by fear. Because not all restarts are the same. Some are more difficult than others. Personally, the most complex are those following situations that I perceive and represent inside me as personal failures.

I look back, I see what happened, my mistakes, and I struggle to look forward with renewed confidence. The fear, around the corner, is to fail again. Re-fail and re-start, two antithetical verbs which, I realize, despite my age, I still have to learn to conjugate correctly not in the grammar of words but in that of life. How to start over after a failure so devastating that it took away your confidence in yourself, in your judgment and self-administration? It’s complicated. Much more complicated than when the failures of our lives are generated by others. In that case it’s easier to start over because you just have to perfect that internal process of blaming the other and you’re ready.

But when you feel that you are primarily the cause of your previous failure, how do you start over? It is not easy to answer this question, first of all because there is no single answer; each of us has different capacities for self-analysis, self-absolution and reaction. The point from which I believe we can start, a point common to anyone with a human soul is that of forgiveness. The one towards oneself, the most complex to express. A song says “Forgive and you will forget”, but I don’t believe it because, speaking of the grammar of life, the verb to forget doesn’t belong in my dictionary. But even if I don’t believe it, I know that when you forgive, without realizing it, you start to soften the wounds, and a softer wound is a wound that starts to hurt less.

When we forgive ourselves it is as if we give a caress to our inner child who will have learned a lesson in that moment and will feel ready to start growing again. When we manage to forgive ourselves, many of those thoughts of revenge, of revenge that have accompanied us in the darkest moments following our failure, suddenly fall away. And it’s a fundamental step because you stop living to prove something, and instead demonstrate that you live. Self-forgiveness is complicated, but it’s a painful and necessary step to start feeling good again. To give yourself another chance. Because chances never end, and when we learn it, when we really make this concept our own with respect to the unpredictability of life and what it can give us, when we manage to do it, as per the incipit sentence, we find ourselves in front of the mirror of our soul to smile without even knowing why.

And at that point it’s fine like this, let’s ride that smile, let’s celebrate it, however anonymous and unexpected, as if it were the most important of our lives. Let’s embrace that unexpected smile and let ourselves be guided by him; knows the right path, the one to get us out of the quicksand of remorse, regrets, hatred, to lead us towards positive emotions and experiences of which life is full. It may happen, even once we have forgiven ourselves and have been able to stand up again, that, for a few seconds, our mind may again be clouded again by negative thoughts. It’s normal, it has happened and it will happen again. But let’s not let these thoughts take over the beauty that life is offering us right now.

Have we fallen? Okay. We were wrong? Okay. It happens. It will happen again. But let’s not waste any more time because, as Karl Barth said “No one can go back and start over, but anyone can go ahead and decide the ending.”