“The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
So, we survived the end of the world; now what? Were you maybe a tad disappointed that the world didn’t come to a screeching halt? No more bills, no more bosses or coworkers, no more lines at the DMV, no more guilt trips, or unfulfilled dreams; just beautiful, peaceful nothingness. Did you mentally run through a list of all the things you would do on Saturday, if Saturday actually came? I did…no, I didn’t believe the world would actually end, but I did think it was a good opportunity to ponder getting a second chance at life.
I wasn’t worried about trips I haven’t taken (although on Christmas Eve, I swear I almost booked a trip to Paris in June to see Leonard Cohen in concert). I didn’t really spend much time thinking about how I’ve never had children or about leaving one life behind to pursue another. I wasn’t worried about my accomplishments or lack thereof. I just wanted to see Saturday, because I knew that there we things that I had left undone for too long…things that did not make me happy.
Two things came to mind when I contemplated the end of everything as we know it:
- I’ve been really lax in keeping in touch with the people I care about.
- There is someone I’ve been really mad at for a while (because I can’t forgive them for something).
I read an excellent quote the other day that said, “Enlightenment is the ego’s ultimate disappointment.” I instantly realized that I was in no danger of my ego being disappointed any time soon. I began to laugh, and I just couldn’t stop. When I finally did compose myself, tears streaming down my face, I read the following quote (it was right beneath the first one). It’s from Byron Katie; “I find that so often self-realization leaves us only with laughter.” Yep, I started laughing again.
My truth is, I have been unwilling to let go and forgive someone very close to me, because I’ve been self-righteously clinging to the idea that they are wrong and bad, and therefore I can’t love them. Is this true? No. What happened (this is the extremely abridged version), was that I expected this person to be someone different than who they were -in a major crisis situation- and they just couldn’t do it. Feeling enraged and devalued and extremely betrayed, I let a bunch of old wounds and resentments rise up and circle the room. They were like those spider-robots in the Matrix movies (Sentinels?) that rip absolutely everything apart, remorselessly, in a matter of seconds.
Although I didn’t say all the things I was thinking, I ended up storming off; resplendent in my indignation for being wronged, belittled, unappreciated, judged, you name it. I was asked to come back by a well-meaning onlooker, but I declined. Things have never been the same with this person. And perhaps they shouldn’t be, but not because they wronged me. For years, I have expected and demanded and wished that “this time” they’d be different. Well, unfortunately, my idea of “different” was based on my idea of what they “should be” and not theirs. The truth is I needed to be different. They could be whomever they wanted to be.
As Lily Tomlin famously said, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” That one makes me laugh and cry. I know a lot of people are iffy on the idea of forgiveness. So am I. After all, doesn’t forgiveness mean having to give up how you really (legitimately) feel and leaving yourself open to being vulnerable to the same hurts? Maybe not. Perhaps forgiveness is more about seeing with new eyes. It’s about giving yourself permission to let the past be the past and realizing that you have the power to choose in each moment what you pay attention to or disregard. That doesn’t mean that you have to pretend that someone is no longer capable of doing or saying potentially hurtful things. The trick is to not allow those things to land on you and burn through your clothes. It means checking your ego. It means, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
So, what to do about my non-end of the world resolutions? Let’s just say my ego isn’t going to like this one. The person who has to change is me. If my ego hadn’t gotten in the way in the aforementioned crisis situation, I could have just brushed off the insults and continued with what I needed to do. Now, I have to do the right thing here and reconcile with the person in question. I also have to keep in better contact with my friends. I read another great quote a few weeks ago about enlightenment from Ram Dass. It said, “Think you’re truly enlightened? Go spend a weekend with your parents.” This too cracks me up. By the way, this story has nothing to do with my parents…directly. And when you see me in the next couple of weeks, be sure to ask me how the reconciliation is going.
If you’re having a hard time reconciling with family and friends or within your marriage, and you feel like it’s imperative for you to do so in the new year; give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our experienced counselors and life coaches and hypnotherapist are here to guide you and give you the support you need on your journey. Namaste. -Kim