A few days ago I was driving into a spectacular sunset, golden light rippling across bridge abutments, spilling down hills and racing tree shadows into dusk. Peach, pink, turquoise, azure, and deepest evening blue were graced with tiny cloud-chips, back lit by retiring Sol, bright clusters of water droplets transformed by light into gems fit for the gods.
On the odd occasions when I am in the van alone, I tend to think aloud, perhaps work out plot points or character development for a new story, or try to work out where to go next when I'm stuck between point A and point B in a narrative.
On this occasion, I was thinking about what motivates people to behave as they do. What influences us, who influences us, long after an event, an interaction is past? Why would a character act in a certain way? Why do people act in a certain way? Why do I act in a certain way?
What people or events have shaped how I interact with the world today?
When we hold on to negative emotions, negative responses, negative influences, we hurt more than ourselves - clinging to our drama, our trauma, means forcing those who've done us harm to remain as we knew them, to maintain the roll of aggressor, of wrong-doer.
By holding onto the memories of the wrong done to me, by keeping them alive and allowing them to shape who and what I am today, I am also keeping those who hurt me as they were - I do not give them a chance to grow or evolve, to become better people...rather, I am helping to imprison them in my definition of their character.
I hold us all back.
That seems remarkably cruel.
So while I was driving and thinking, I started a sort of chant.
I spoke a name, the name of someone who harmed me (in my perception...and perception is everything) in some way, and added "I forgive you. I forgive you for (whatever event I had been clinging to)", three times per name. It was a sort of letting go, and it felt good.
To forgive someone for doing harm, to let them go and let them evolve, to cease limiting them to my one experience with them, felt like an act of power. Now, even if they don't let go, if they continue along their path the same way, if they remember and feel bad or justified or anything at all about an event, I'm not stuck in the moment with them.
Letting others determine how we live, sometimes even years later, is to give over control of our lives to them. Forgiving, letting go, moving on, is reclaiming that control, reclaiming life. It may take more than one amazing evening sky, more than one bout of introspection, but it's a start, and I felt somehow lighter for having done it.
Who are you holding onto, holding back, giving over control to? Think you can let them go today?
*Edit - I meant to include a mention of what reminded me of the above evening drive. Over at Namasdaisy there's a lovely post about parenting, and one paragraph struck a chord for some reason, and put me in mind of forgiveness: "Some needs are universal, and there is nothing so detrimental to a full life than the feeling that we are adults who have somehow arrived at a plateau where we no longer carry the need to search, expand or endeavor to change. " I think it was the bit about endeavoring to change...anyway, go give her a look if you like - she's a sweetheart!
Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!
"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
For old quotes, look here.
For old quotes, look here.