A few years ago, I had a falling out with someone professionally. I was very upset and hurt by what I saw as their disregard of my contribution, and told them how I was feeling. During the correspondences that followed, they apologized and tried to correct the misunderstanding….basically calling it a misunderstanding. But I didn’t see how it could be that.
To be a misunderstanding, it had to have several different (legitimate) perspectives. I only saw mine, and I didn’t want to see their’s. I said (in words) that I understood, I accepted their apology, and wanted to put the whole thing behind me, but in my heart it wasn’t clean, or clearly let go of. A woman whom I was friends with years ago used to say, “I forgive, but I never forget.” At the time I thought this sounded cleaver, but over the years, I saw this woman become heavier, slower, darker, and much less appealing to be around. Forgiveness, as lip-service, is relatively easy.
The other day, Jack and I were talking about how to deal with hurtful behavior by others, and this situation came to mind. My next words were, “We are just as wrong when we don’t let someone clear the air and make things right.” I realized that in my own situation I had not wanted to clear the air.
I was actually (and not really consciously) more comfortable thinking that I had been wronged then I was stepping into this person’s perspective. I had been wrong too, maybe not in our initial interaction, but in my reaction, and while the other person had tried (when I brought to her attention what had happened) to correct it within hours, I’d held onto this long-term grievance for several years.
I knew that I needed to make an amend but wasn’t sure how to go about it, and my pride was having a fit with thoughts like, “You didn’t do anything wrong! You don’t need to apologize.” …but I did. I sent an email, telling her what I had seen in myself and apologizing. I didn’t know if I’d get a response or not, but it didn’t matter. When I composed my letter and hit “send” on my computer, I took a deep breath. I was clear, I had seen myself clearly and it felt so good. I did receive a reply and it was open, gracious and lovely.
I wish that I was fully enlightened. I wish that I wouldn’t ever hurt another person again. I wish that I was always open and joy-filled and free. But that probably isn’t going to happen, so the best that I can do, is the best that I can do, in the moment that I see it. I choose to be open to everyone, to not hold grudges, to be friendly, kind, and loving. When I’m not like this, I know it, I see it, and I reaffirm my intention to do better in thought, word, and action. I forgive myself for falling short of my ideal, and begin again.
We live in a world of imperfect people, who annoy, hurt, and disappoint and us at times…as we do them. This just seems to be a part of this journey of being a human being. Oh well…so be it. I still choose to be a part of it, to accept life on life’s terms, and to laugh at the absurdity of it all at times. We humans can be such lug-heads can’t we? Why not laugh at ourselves, forgive ourselves, forgive others, clear the air, and step into this new day ready to be the best imperfect people that we can be.
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” Norman Cousins