Friday, November 28, 2008

For-Giving Thanks

For some reason this Thanksgiving I have spent the time thinking about forgiveness. Not asking others to forgive me, but forgiving others. Every fall I work for atonement around the high holidays - Yom Kippur. I think of what I have done to hurt others and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes asking for it from the person I've hurt (my children, my husband) or from the universe and Grace for those people no longer in my personal cipher. But I realize that I do not have a time when I ask myself to forgive those who have trespassed against me. Isn't that as important as asking forgiveness from others? I think it is.

Holding onto past hurts and anger hurts me and those I come in to contact with. It makes me angry and bitter and frustrated. It makes me unhappy. But I don't think I recognize that my past pains are the reason I am so miserable so often. In the years when life drama was my constant companion, I would blame everything on other people and how they "made me" feel or act a certain way. Bullshit! Not to dip into psycho-babble but I really am responsible for my feelings, my resentments, my shame and my guilt. I can chose, really easily at first, but then with some work, to let things go. To "give it up, turn it loose" to quote an En Vogue song. That first moment of release is exhilarating and I feel liberated. Then the work sets in. I have to remember, be conscious of the fact, that I have let something go. That I have indeed chosen to forgive someone their trespasses. That means not replaying the events over and over in my head to my own detriment, or trying to come up with an alternate ending! Not bringing up those past events in an argument if I am still fortunate enough to have that person in my life. And not allowing it to stop me in my tracks and become my go-to excuse for bad behavior.

What brought these feelings on? Well, I had this overwhelming desire to listen to "Dear Mr. President" by P!nk featuring the Indigo Girls (oh, how I love me some Indigo Girls). And in a bit of an epiphany I recognized George W. Bush as a person. As someone worthy of life and therefore worthy of forgiveness. I am not sure what his personal motivations have been for all that he has done. I am not sure why he made the decisions he has made. And I am not sure if he fully realizes the impact that his choices have made on so many people. But lately he looks like he does. He looks heavy, weighed down by some kind of invisible albatross. In an interview with Barbara Walters the other evening, President-Elect Obama spoke about the isolation of being President. I think I always knew that intellectually but it is quite something else to see him already embracing the weight of his job. The weight. None of us could possibly imagine that responsibility. I am overwhelmed, to quote my friend M with "working like a dog to keep my kids filthy and semi-neglected."

I want to forgive President Bush. To see his humanity for a moment. And to let go of my obsession with his bad policy. Something new is on the horizon and I want to embrace the future and let go of the past. And I think part of being able to forgive other people is forgiving myself for the bad decisions that I have made. I can be most unkind to myself. Forgiving that spirit will take a little more work than forgiving the President, but I can do that too. Now go listen to the Indigo Girls.

in peace

photo: ToppC

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