It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that they are “moving on with their life”, or to have someone advise us that we should move on with our lives. It is worth considering in what context the idea of moving on is generally used.
First of all, we are not generally told we should move on from something positive that has happened to us, but more likely a loss or disappointment. If Publisher’s Clearinghouse knocks at our door, we aren’t advised to move on from either the surprise or the landfall. But when the surprise is the untimely death of a loved one, a job dislocation, or a fractured relationship – it is then, after awhile, that we are advised to move on. If we have been hurt or betrayed, we can also be told it’s time to move on. The implication is that the failure to move on is a sign of personal dysfunction or immaturity.
While it is true that we should try not to get stuck in hurt, anger, or even grief, I find there is frequently an ulterior motive at work. Our raw feelings can trigger discomfort in others, sometimes a discomfort they would rather avoid. Perhaps at some point they moved on too quickly, leaving feelings unresolved. Our experience threatens to open wounds they would rather ignore. Or it might be that the other person’s capacity for listening or for caring is limited. They are only able to empathize with us for a certain period of time. In these situations, our moving on makes things a lot easier for them.
It is important we resist the pull of cultural influences to interfere with our relationships.
During difficult times, life may call us to “keep on”, to practice endurance, rather than to “move on”.