It is perhaps after a million years that I am writing a post. Frankly, I had nothing inspiring/interesting going on and hence there was nothing I felt like writing. Therefore, I decided to spare you all the pain of reading my post!
Recently though, on one of those nothing-so-special Uber rides, I met a man in his 60s who was riding me home. Our brief conversation pushed me to think about forgiveness. So, his story is something like this. For the sake of convenience let us name him B. B was returning to Stillwater, Oklahoma after 49 long years though he was after all son of the soil. He was born and brought up in this same place and lived up to the age of 15. 49 years ago he had lost his father to a storm in a nearby lake. His father was passionate about fishing and had also taught B the best of the techniques to fish right since he was 9 years old. A week ago, B had retired and was looking for a more cost-friendly place to stay post-retirement and that is how he had chosen Stillwater. In his words “I never wanted to return to this place after my father’s death. It’s been 49 years since he left me and there is not a day when I don’t think about him. I miss him whenever I go fishing. Maybe I will go to the lake (where the tragedy occurred) and try fishing there. Maybe I will try forgiving that place for what it has done to me!”
Wow! Will I ever be able to forgive someone or someplace that ever inflicted so much pain on me? Maybe not. And that pretty much supports my response. I said, “It’s okay if you can’t forgive that place. If you are at peace with yourself, that’s all that matters” I don’t know if it was the lack of experience of a 23-year-old or the instinctive ‘unforgiving’ nature of me. I have never been comfortable pardoning people for what they have done to me. I have not wished bad for them. But neither have I or rather can I wish them well. Sure, it has taken a piece of me every time when I have decided to hold back the grudge. But most of the times, the same hurt and grudge have what pushed me to challenge my limits and achieve success. There have been so many days when hurt from the past has pushed me to do what’s right and place myself at the epicenter of life decisions.
We have historically placed so much importance on forgiveness and the ability to let go that we have failed time and again to harness the power of hurt. Does it mean that I advocate internalizing anger and hurt and become self-destructive? Absolutely not. I definitely though, vouch for the fact that not all people who inflict pain are worthy of forgiveness. If there is someone who needs forgiveness, it is you. Unless you forgive yourself for what has happened to you; unless you take out the ‘I’ factor from hurtful life events, you are forever stuck in the old chapters of your life. Forgive if you have to. But let the forgiveness be for yourself before you extend that kindness to those venomous people who scarred you. If you can be at peace with yourself, if you can forgive yourself for those events in which you were not at fault, you are at a far better place than people who can forgive others but not themselves. What is the purpose of life if you can’t love yourself past your mistakes but expect for external validation of the same?
If today, you don’t have it in you to forgive life/an event/a person for something that happened to you, don’t be hard on yourself try to be the saint you aren’t (yet). Learn to forgive yourself first, if you can sleep without remorse for yourself, you are at a much better place than you think.