We all have someone to forgive. When it’s a person that is part of your daily life, you have all the incentive you need to work on that forgiving stuff. Grudges will gnaw on you if you don’t find a path to pardon.
When it’s a person, say an accordion player from your past, and that person is not around any more, you may only consider forgiveness when you hear polka music and get pissed.
Forgiveness is not about justice; it is “to stop feeling anger.” If you succeed, or when you succeed, you will be giving up on vengeful feelings. You will just put down that broken accordion and move along to whatever is playing on the next stage.
Forgetting to be angry is not the same thing. Forgetting can be easy.
Forgiving is hard and painful because you must study the hurt and remember the details to get the job done.
You know what? Fuck that accordion. Nobody likes it.
Religions are really good at creating forgiveness rituals. I once received a very, very deep apology email from a stranger in India who asked that I forgive any wrongs he might have done, even unintentionally. Resisting the urge to reply with an it’s-all-good message, I looked into the practice of Jainism instead.
The Jains have a holiday to ask forgiveness from everyone. It’s not just a thought exercise, either. If you were a Jain, you would need to apologize to your bus driver, your teachers, your friends and the crossing guard. Out loud. You would even have to apologize to that weirdo on tumble-gram, or whateveritis.
If I understand it correctly, the idea is to initiate forgiving yourself and let it spread out from there.
Most recently, I made a huge step in forgiving that accordion-douche. That douche was important enough to me that she or he caused terrible pain and disappointment–but that pain is only one thing. There were also quite a few positive side-effects of my time in douche-proximity. Being grateful for the good elements of the experience immediately made polka music just a bit more tolerable.
So, here is my recipe to bake some forgiveness pie:
- See that you need to forgive
- Decide that you will forgive
- Imagine how you will forgive
- Act like you are forgiving
- Boom. Forgiveness pie is in the oven, just give it a little time.