An Old Familiar Place
It is an old idea, but an easy one to forget, and even harder to apply. Holding a grudge rarely hurts the other person, but it does lasting harm to the one hanging on to the anger.
It was a good moment-Yesterday, after family dinner, relatives visiting from out of town were over for ice cream and conversation. The talk turns to stories about family. I’m puttering about my kitchen, cleaning up random messes, much like my grandmother would have. I smile thinking of that, share it with those around me. Somehow a particular relative gets brought up, and we tell horror stories. It’s funny, mostly…we all laugh and shake our heads. I tell one awful story about something this person has done to me and terrible thing I said in response. I feel justified. I begin to pontificate on the sadness of one person holding on to a grudge for nearly 55 years, and how it has consumed them. In my mind, I think of other recent conversations where I pretend I am enlightened, somehow beyond such petty things. I encourage, almost plead, “let this go. It only hurts you.”
I am such a hypocrite.
This morning, I sat down in front of this computer, a hot coffee on one side, the new record by Boris spinning on the turntable, and I see yesterday, that one moment, in the light and brilliance of a new day. I cannot talk about someone else holding on to five decades plus of anger while I continue to tell the same hateful story over and over. I am the one holding on to useless anger. I am the one who is obviously not over some perceived slight. Looking around the room, I see many things-books, coffee mugs filled with coins, pens, coffee. The stack of CD’s I have yet to listen to. The dog sleeps in the corner by the bookshelf. She hates taking her new pills and most of the time, I have to force her to eat them. The guitars rest in their stands, waiting to be played. And, I see myself, sitting in an all too familiar place. These lessons in forgiveness, I never seem to really learn them.
Or maybe, that is the point, and learning to forgive is a continual process, and over and over, failing and climbing out again and again. I like how that sounds. I will forgive myself for falling into old traps. I will get up, dust myself off, mark the dangerous place in my mind, and keep going.