Friday, January 1, 2010

An Epiphany at the Dawn of 2010

I think I just figured something out.

About forgiveness.

I was ready Sarah Hampson's Generation Ex column in the Globe and Mail wherein, apparently, she writes about her divorce. I'd never read it before. Didn't know it existed. In today's paper, she writes:

"People often talk about forgiveness as a crucial part of healing. The culture likes the idea of it – a warm, white blanket we lay out to smooth over bad feelings and events. But I don't think you can forgive everything. And there's an element of superiority in forgiveness that I don't like: You are somehow above the one to be forgiven, more generous, morally above it all. If you are to do forgiveness well, to make it more about catharsis and less about your own attempts to take the high road, it has to be co-operative, I think. The person whose actions you want to forgive has to be willing to listen to how you feel, to the impact they had on you. They have to know what they did, in other words."

 I've never really understood our cultural push to forgive. Wouldn't that mean to forget? And how can you forget? So if someone's done something awful, how can you forgive the pain they've caused. And isn't forgiveness weak? All that turning of cheeks.

My way has always been to lick my wounds, strap on my breastplate, grab my sword and move on. Usually quickly. Usually without much thought. As I get older, I try to do a bit more thinking and it takes me longer to jump the chasm because of this contemplation, but I still maintain my forward motion. It's what saves me. The feeling of racing ahead to the next thing.

Yet, as I read Sarah's column, an idea hit me. Forgiveness is possible.

I don't agree with her about the one doing the forgiving as being somehow superior although I would have thought that yesterday. Nor do I believe that forgiving has to be co-operative.

Quite the contrary -- it can be humble and it can be onesided.

I never understood that before.

Could it be that forgiveness is as simple as accepting things for what they are -- regardless of the reasons or outcomes? That forgiveness is accepting the current state of affairs (no pun intended) without casting blame and saying: "Here I am. Right here. Doesn't matter how I got where I am because here I stand. And it's a new day. Sunshine or gloom. This is the day I've got in front of me."

I've never understood the notion that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. I've always been a warrior, ready for battle, insistent on personal survival, ready to mow you down. (Not YOU personally.) One of my exes with whom I remain friends used to call it my Rambo-esque approach to life. I rather liked that. It made me feel strong.

But today -- quite suddently -- I think I get the idea that forgiveness is only about me. It's about me accepting who and where I am, and accepting the other person for who and where he is.

Could it be that simple?

I think it might be.

That's a pretty powerful thing when you think about it.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you have just enough of everything that makes you happy this year.



  1. wow! you just had a moment! good for you.

  2. Can ya believe it? It happens every now and again.