Feel free to look back but don’t go that way.
Like when driving a car, use your rear view mirror.
Look back but don’t turn around.
Don’t change directions.
Reflect but move forward.
I often thought myself a fool for forgiving so often because people thought I was naive, or full of self doubt, or even that I had been dishonest about events that I claimed had caused me to separate myself from those I chose to leave behind.
It seems to me when someone such as myself refuses to trouble themselves with self preservation-spawned explanations because my self worth and value don’t rely on outside opinions, people tend to fill in the blanks in my silence with their own assumptions.
Their assumptions are often very wrong.
They see a weakness in my forgiveness because they can’t understand how I could do it.
Until a few years ago I didn’t even understand how I was able to do it.
How is it so easy to forgive?
First I had to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m unworthy of justice for the harmful things that have been done.
I just don’t have a need to seek retribution for myself.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were.
Some broken things can not be fixed.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bad things didn’t happen.
I remember them clearly. Vividly. Painfully.
Forgiveness is a tool of freedom.
It allows me to empty the tightly packed spaces in my mind and spirit where resentments and anger grow and thrive like bacteria, infecting my consciousness with bitterness and hate.
Bitterness and hate are like poison. They infect my attitude, actions, and mentality. They pour out in words and behaviors on everyone and everything I encounter.
I choose not to allow that type of sickness to live inside of me and I certainly won’t allow myself to harbor it and infect anyone else with it.
Not even by accident in the form of displaced anger.
I don’t forgive because people deserve it. I forgive because I deserve to be happy, joyous, and free.
It helps to see people as they really are.
Making monsters out of men makes the world a scary place.
I don’t believe in bad people and I have never met an evil baby. Most of the “bad” people are just badly broken.
Some will die behaving badly, though.
Some really don’t change.
But I won’t deprive someone the benefit of the doubt.
I won’t deprive someone the opportunity to learn and grow.
They don’t need to do it with me, near me, or at my expense. But I try to avoid an attitude of judgement at all costs.
I was lost once.
I found my “self” was always in me.
That’s the one thing that never leaves and being okay with who I really am is what made the world worth living in and made me worthy to live in it and be a part of all of its beauty.
Some people are never going to be okay with who they are. I won’t make it harder for them by being hateful or holding grudges.
I truly believe most “bad people” are just in pain, in fear, or lost somehow.
Something I picked up in my religious studies is an idea that no one’s life or sense of comfort is more valuable than another’s. This is why I must set limits while helping others so I don’t allow myself to be destroyed because my life and comfort is valuable, too.
I’m really strong, though.
Damn near invincible when it comes to spiritual fortitude.
I also have an incredible sense of who I am and what my value is.
So, forgiveness is easy.
I feel no need to make people like me.
I feel no need to save face.
I feel no need to be vengeful.
I feel no need to repay suffering.
I feel no need to be right in the realm of public opinion.
Forgiveness is easier for those reasons, too.
Religious philosiphies and spiritual teachings often repeat themes throughout centuries and sects.
One of these is that it is an enlightened person’s spiritual responsibility to teach others the path by showing them the way with their actions.
The Dalai Lama said, “We should not seek revenge on those who have committed crimes against us, or reply to their crimes with other crimes. We should reflect that by the laws of Karma, they are in danger of lowly and miserable lives to come, and that our duty to them, as to every being, is to help them rise toward Nirvana rather than sink to lower levels of rebirth.”
So I forgive them for their harms.
I move forward on my journey toward enlightenment, fortified by my good deeds.
I show them kindness.
In my kindness they can breathe for a moment.
In that breath they may find rest or peace.
In that moment of calm their chaotic mind may unfold.
In that clarity they may find the way forward.
I forgive because it is my duty to myself and to the world.
I forgive because it strengthens and soothes my soul in the way that vengeance and anger briefly satisfies some who may not feel connected to their spirit, or their consciousness, or whatever it is that they believe it was that created them.
I forgive because forgiveness is helpful.
I forgive because forgiveness is good.
We are not test scores.
We are not criminal records.
We are not measured by how many blue thumbs up we accumulate at the bottom of a photo.
We are not a habit or a membership.
We are not a religion.
We are not a color.
We are not a size or numbers on a scale.
We are not the things we’ve done.
We are the things we do.
We are how we treat others.
We are the intentions behind our actions.
We are the effort we put into self improvement.
Blame throwing and name knowing mean nothing in the end.
No excuses or justifications for bad behavior.
Minnesota winters at night were so quiet and still.
The blanket of white even muted the colors in the landscape.
If my mind became chaotic I would sit outside in the dark and the silence of it all soothed me.
The trees and leaves were frozen and still and made no rustling.
The critters and bugs had died or settled into their hibernation slumber.
Birds went south so there wasn’t a chirp or wing flapping for hundreds of miles.
It was like living on the moon.
Everything was sparkling.
I loved watching the dryer vent outside of the house.
As soon as the warm moist air entered in to the cold it crystalized.
It looked like glitter. Sparkling air flowing out.
It was beautiful.
I don’t understand how people can be gloomy and grumpy about a cold winter.
It’s one of the most beautiful things on this Earth.
Life is like a puzzle.
In the beginning the picture is unclear.
Thousands of pieces.
Each step we organize it by learning things, growing, moving forward.
We begin to see some sense in it.
Shapes and forms become visible.
Direction is found.
At some point we have a good idea of our purpose, even when the details and full picture aren’t clear.
It seems to me that those who choose to see the beauty in the colors while the details aren’t yet visible, and the people who take joy from the work that is done to complete the next task rather than worry that their efforts are irrelevant, and the people that trust that the outcome will be worthwhile are much happier during the process.
All of us.
Every one different though some may look alike.
I’ve found my edges.
I must say it’s vibrant.
Parts are complete while others are still a jumble.
Putting myself together has been fun, overall.
I’m glad I’m not done yet like I wanted to be in the darker parts.
I’m excited to see what’s next.