Don’t beat yourself up for being a mess. It’s fine. The universe is a mess. Galaxies are drifting all over the place. You’re just in tune with the cosmos.– Matt Haig, from Notes on a Nervous Planet
My Humble Friend
My humble friend sent a list of reflections he’d compiled recently on a trip back east to see his dad, including:
“Truly forgiving others will save your soul.”
I thought that was powerfully put. I wrote back: “That should be a bumper sticker, or a mantra or something. Would you mind if I posted it on Facebook and credited you?”
He replied: “Thanks for your kind words. You can totally use my quote without giving me credit. I imagine I’m not the first person to think that!”
I then asked if I could credit him anyway but haven’t heard back again yet. So … better safe than sorry, I guess.
Sometimes Frustration Is Just Lack of Forgiveness
I usually write this newsletter on Thursday evening and don’t know what I’ll write about until the last moment, but something always comes, and then it seems obvious.
Last night was different though. I knew I had a Word file on my computer with a few possible newsletter themes sketched out in a phrase or two, and I wanted to look back at that file, not necessarily to use any of those themes, but just to kick start my process.
When I couldn’t find the file – it wasn’t in either of the folders where it might logically have been – it drove me a bit crazy. As I said, I wasn’t depending on it for an idea exactly; I just wanted to look at it. Having misplaced it put a wrench in my gears. I just couldn’t let go, couldn’t move forward not knowing what the heck happened to those notes.
(I know I wrote recently about the phenomenon of memory loss, with some tongue-in-cheek humor, but actually I have been able to depend on my unusually sharp memory my whole life. I’ve never kept an appointment calendar, for example; it’s all in my head. And I simply don’t misplace things. On the rare occasions that I do, I kind of freak out a little.)
I looked back through my physical notebooks too. Usually I jot down ideas in a notebook first and then save them to Word files on the computer. But I couldn’t find the recent ideas I was searching for in any of my notebooks either.
That was weird. That was really freaky.
It was getting very late. I wasn’t able to settle into the semi-meditative state from which blog ideas arise, because I was too stuck on the fact that I’d lost those earlier notes.
From my notebook pages, a lot of notes about forgiveness jumped out at me though, like “Self-forgiveness is everything.” (That must have come to me when I was high.)
And I landed on a page where I had brainstormed an answer to this Higher Thought question:
For things you’ve done wrong, whose forgiveness do you need most – your own, God’s, or other people’s?
I had written: “There is no question I need my own forgiveness most. I hope other people can forgive me but if they can’t, I still wish them peace. As for God, what is God? I think any God that isn’t forgiving exists only in my own head, so that circles back to the need for self-forgiveness. If God exists, I think God’s already forgiven everything.”
And then I got the message. My inability to let go of those missing notes was rooted in fears that either: (a) I’m aging, and therefore becoming more forgetful, as I hear happens to people; or (b) I’ve been getting high too often, and that has deleterious cognitive effects.
Now, either or both of those fears could be true. But the point is … I realized that I felt subtly guilty about each of those possibilities – guilty about aging (yup!) and about smoking too much pot. (And yeah, I had to get high to actually see that.)
So I got the message. If I could forgive myself for losing those notes (or for smoking too much pot, or for getting old, I could move on. Being obsessed with the missing notes was an expression of a lack of forgiveness. There was no question I could write about something else; there is so much to write about, always.
How often do fear and frustration actually mask lack of forgiveness?
Is that just my unique form of neurosis or can you relate?
Forgiving Self and Others May Be the Same Thing
Lately I’ve been seeing that when I hold people to blame in my mind, there is a way in which I’m not letting myself off the hook either.
It’s very relaxing to forgive. Like my willfully anonymous friend wrote, it can save your soul.
Conversely, when I don’t forgive myself, I am the other. Or rather, I am someone or something that cannot be forgiven and therefore I have no home in my own heart.
I figured that I might as well write about forgiveness since it was so “up” for me. And if this is preachy or ungraceful, I forgive myself that too.
Hey! And I want you to know: I actually did finally find those notes on my computer that I was looking for! It was just a much older file than I’d thought. I thought I had just made those notes last month – turns out I’d created that file all the way back in October. So … I simply hadn’t been looking back far enough. I feel better now. Maybe I’m not that old. And maybe I don’t smoke too much pot.
But my heart isn’t worried about getting it right. My heart doesn’t worry much at all, and it forgives everything, just like God.