There is a person within my acquaintance, with whom I once became incandescent with rage. Even after the issue was over, for a long time subsequently I could not relax in this individual’s presence. I resented them. I no longer trusted them. I judged their every movement by this one act that had made me so angry.
Then one day, a while later, I looked at that person and realised I’d dropped it all. All my disquiet and displeasure, gone. I’d forgiven them, without even trying. And of course, it made perfect sense, because why hold a grudge against a human being who made an honest mistake? There is nothing to be gained from that.
This is a disgusting example. But bear with me. I used to have a cluster of warts in-between two of my toes. I bought creams. I winced at the idea of freezing treatments. I was advised by my abusive ex-boyfriend (to whom I suspect I’ll be referring more often in future) to simply cut them off, like he did with his. I decided the freezing treatments didn’t sound too bad after all.
Nothing worked. But I guess I don’t look at my feet very often. Because one day, suddenly, without me trying anything, they were gone, and the only explanation was that I didn’t notice them going.
Is forgiveness really that easy? Because I always thought it must be really difficult. I read an article once (I’ve searched and searched, and I cannot find it again), which I think was about a woman whose son had been killed, and how she learnt to forgive the killer. But the point was that forgiveness is not something you do for the benefit of the person you’re forgiving. You do it for the benefit of you.
I think about all the people who need forgiving. The bullies at school. The treacherous ‘friends’. The abusive ex-boyfriend. The resentment I’ve carried with me and pretended I’m not carrying with me, for years now. There’s a John Martyn song: ‘I don’t wanna know about evil, I only wanna know about love’, and I told myself I didn’t want to know about evil, I blotted it out, ignored it. Ignored those people. But there is always evil. You wait, like John Martyn waits, for the planes to tumble and the towns to fall and they do. How do you get through without going mad? It almost seems callous to say that perhaps it helps to forgive.
There is a person within my acquaintance, who I am trying my hardest not to identify. I have a lot in common with this individual, but there is one particular trait that stood out to me, because I very rarely come across someone else who shares it. Our attitudes towards this trait could not be more different. Another trait that they have (which I suppose I have no way of knowing whether or not I share) is that I think they are a complete idiot. The particular idiocy people my age have, of knowing full well what they’re doing wrong. But of course it is far more frustrating to watch someone fall if you can see the branch over which they’re going to trip.
I liked this person enormously. I still do. But when I discovered how differently to me they approach this shared trait, I was furious. I’m still furious. I feel so strongly about It, and about my approach to It, that I can only respond to something different with total indignation and refusal. There is no possibility that they can be right, whether I am right as well or not.
I don’t know how to deal with it. I don’t know if I’m too stubborn to sit down and think it out of my system, or if I’m refusing to try because I’m scared I won’t succeed. I’m carrying it around with me in the meantime, uneasy that I will offend anyone who knows us both. I’m hoping, one day, that I’ll drop the burden without even noticing, that it’ll fall off like my anger with the first individual I described, like my warts.
It seems to good to be true. It feels like there’s a very fine line between waiting for it to go away, and burying my head in the sand and ignoring it and hoping that it will go away. It is an entirely selfish act. It has nothing to do with the other person. I can’t even sit here and say for certain that it’s necessary. I can’t reach a decision. I just know that I’d really like to let go of a bit more of that anger, preferably passively. I have no idea how to do it on purpose. I want my feet to be lighter when I tread in the sand. Eyes firmly up on top, looking all around me.
I do wish I could think of things to write at useful times, like now, instead of at 22:30 on a Saturday night. Which probably means this is either one of my better ideas, or one of my worst ones. But it’s nice to have captured it, given that usually I don’t bother to write these things down.
Also, the John Martyn song is brilliant, like something out of a dream, as is all his music: