Facebook sent me one of those “memory” reminders a couple of days ago and it sent me spinning a bit. It’s a picture from 5 years back, fresh off a season of working music festivals on cruise ships. A picture from another lifetime.
Of all the challenges that grow me into a better me, forgiveness seems to be the heaviest lift. Intellectually and spiritually, I get it. Everything is a call to love. Therefore, everything is a call to forgiveness. If that’s not enough, there is truth in the cliché that refusing to forgive is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die. Yep. Like that. It’s decidedly toxic. But forgiving and releasing? The “how” of that so often eludes me.
Write a letter and burn it. Pray it out. Offer it up. Talk it out. Move on to better things. Practice gratitude for the good times. Sure, those and other therapeutic tools are all great things. But then there are still those moments when you just bump into it by surprise. There are those moments when, for instance, a photo pops up that is simultaneously so rich with joy and memory and yet bitingly bitter and aching like a gaping wound. And suddenly I’m shadowboxing ghosts in my mind. I’m relitigating cases long since tried and retried for naught. There’s no vindication or absolution to be had.
Which obviously brings us to this photo. This was a great moment. A moment of triumph for us all wrapping our busy season. In just a few weeks, I would no longer have a place within these ranks but I was blissfully ignorant of that and secure in my place in the “tribe” and secure in my place in the “tribe” as I took this. .And the people in the photo? These are good people. They, and others not pictured, were family for an amazing chapter of my life. We had some truly epic (and I do mean truly epic) adventures together. And the few who were involved in my sudden and world shattering departure from that adventure? At the end of the day, they are perfectly decent people as well. Also, they are human and they are allowed to behave poorly, even hurtfully, sometimes on their human journey. However, being on the receiving end of that moment in both of our lives, the moment when our journey went from shared to excruciatingly separate, is a wound that has been slow to heal.
For me the pain of such wounds paints with a wide brush and, sadly, colors the innocent too. And those from that family that was that chapter in my life who were merely bystanders were standing just a little too close. All of which makes the call to forgiveness all that much louder in the hope of resurrecting once treasured friendships somewhere down the road or at least being able to revel in the memories without the bitternessI don’t say any of that to lash out at any of them. Again, we are all human and we are all making this up as we go. I wish them only the best life has to offer. I say all of this to talk about forgiveness. To own - once again - that life’s most important lessons and journeys are so often simple but not easy. Forgive and move on and the world opens up in front of you of you and the world behind is reframed in gratitude and lessons learned. Great. Let’s do that. Simple. Simple not easy. Good lord, not easy.
There’s a line I wrote in a song a few years back about a situation like this. The line goes, “If I was right and you were wrong, I’d still be left here working on moving on.” And that’s the point. That’s what I’m talking about. Moving on requires forgiveness. Forgiveness requires letting go of ego, requires leaning into love. Try as I might that is, as yet, a bridge too far. I will not quit, of course. The journey to live love is THE journey and so the journey to forgive must be relentlessly determined as well.
Today it just felt like owning this with you as a witness is part of that journey. Owning this piece of my humanity that, itself, aches for peace. Forgive at every chance friends. For your own sake.
That’s my current journey around forgiveness. I’d love to hear your thoughts if any arise. I’d love to hear how you find your messy way to forgiveness. Thanks for listening and allowing my vulnerability.
Be good to you.