Sunday, April 13, 2014


I don't think too often about the notion of forgiveness. When I do, it's most likely that I have inadvertently hurt someone else and I am hoping they will forgive the mistake. Forgiveness, I suppose, is born of some sort of pain. People hurt other people, often in response to some inflicted pain, real or imagined. Forgiveness often feels like some sort of perpetuation of this pain cycle, not the cathartic release it is often advertised to be. I don't forgive very often simply because I don't store up the pain until it gets to a point that I have to do something with it. Too often, forgiveness becomes almost theatrical in its application - instead of being a release of pain, it becomes an appeal for admiration. There is just too much work and attention in the process for me.
I have been lucky in the pain/forgiveness arena in my life however. It has been a lifetime since someone I loved or cared deeply about has wronged me. Likewise, any pain I have caused has been discarded long before a loved one has had to confront me with it. Pain is fleeting for me, not some sort of capital to be hoarded then cashed in. People are hurt, they hurt, then fuss over forgiveness as if it is a virtue in and of itself. It is not, it is simply the tail end of a masochistic melodrama.
I do not hurt others intentionally, but I do on occasion hurt them accidentally, or more likely, carelessly. Once again, I hope they forgive my stupidity and recklessness. But I do not need relief or absolution from some sort of malevolence; it just isn't there.
When I feel I have been wronged, I rarely focus on the notion that the other person tried to hurt me necessarily; rather, I suppose the action is a means to some sort of end that best goes through me. This is the only conclusion I have been able to find in fifty plus years, as there have been people who I have helped and been gracious to that have come after me in some way. This detached logic (in my DNA maybe) doesn't keep me from brooding about the consequences of the action, but it does mediate my anger (and uglier emotions) towards the person responsible. Maybe this simple separation has spared me the soul-killing cancer of hatred. I don't hate. I don't think I have ever even felt hatred for anyone for any time at all. I have been hurt, angry, and confused, but I have never placed that person at the center of my being long enough to cultivate the emotions I often see on the faces of others. I don't have the smile that slides to a smirk then disintegrates into a snarl. I think I have been blessed this way. Conversely though, many people I have known might accuse me of not having loved either, for many of the same reasons.
I guess, for some, hatred is generated from betrayal. I don't know what it is like to give my heart to someone only to have them maliciously damage it. Even so, I suspect hatred would not be my eventual response. Sadness and grief maybe, hatred no. Betrayal is not a theme that resonates with me anyway - I don't keep score of my good and bad deeds, nor do I keep tally of these exchanges with others. If I give of myself to another and he does something to hurt me, I notice the incongruity, but I do not lament the imbalance. To do so would lead, I fear, to a ledger system that would promote caution and passivity over passion and good will. I see the remnants of the former in the actions of far too many people in my universe already.
Finally, I think my notions of pain and forgiveness are simply by-products of my very driven personality. I thrive on challenges and truly want to make the world a better place. Moving forward and helping others would not be possible with reservoirs of past pain and future skepticism. Any pain I do carry has no face, nor does the possibility of future betrayal exist in the eyes of those I love and share my passions with. I am blessed.