In a convergence of random things today, I was pondering what all writers ponder occasionally — what makes my work unique — while simultaneously forgetting to go to a meeting with someone I might hire to do some work. You’re wondering how I’m going to merge these two aren’t you? Oh ye of little faith.
One of the consistent themes in every book I’ve ever written is forgiveness. My characters forgive each other some big things, and equally importantly, they often have to forgive themselves. In my personal life I’ve come to realize that I have a hard time holding a grudge against others. I might decide that I can’t be friends with you anymore, or that I don’t want to shop at your store again, but I’ll probably have forgiven your transgression long ago. Holding on to resentment and dislike for someone eats away at me like nothing else. The few times I’ve latched onto it and refused to forgive it’s nearly ruined me.
And here’s where we get back to the meeting I completely forgot about this morning: forgiveness has to include yourself. Because my immediate reaction when I forget an appointment is to hate myself. I’m so damn embarrassed I can’t even describe it, and I’m angry because I’ve broadcast how incredibly imperfect I am to the world. Because we’re all trying to project perfection–aren’t we? No? That’s only me? Huh. Well, in any case, I have the capacity to beat myself up over forgetting this appointment all day long, and well into tomorrow. But I’m old enough to have learned that I have to forgive myself and move on, and this hardest of all forgiveness–the capacity to forgive yourself–is one of the things that so many of my fictional characters have to learn as well.
When we forgive others we free ourselves of what I’ll call the burden of bitter. All that negative energy that’s expended holding onto the dislike and the hurt. But when we forgive ourselves we’re freed to be our best. Because when you’re living your life under a cloud of guilt and self-loathing you’ll never reach your potential, you’ll never be free to explore what you truly want to do, and who you truly want to be. Guilt makes you choose things as a way to appease others, and self-loathing prevents you from making choices that are brave. Don’t be that person. Don’t waste the energy hating yourself for mistakes. Own them, remember that you’re human, and move on.
So, today I’ll write about a guitarist who’s going to need to forgive the love of his life for choosing her weakness over him, and then I’m going to forgive myself for standing up a lovely woman at Starbucks at nine a.m. on a Wednesday morning. I’m forgetful. I have a lot of shit to keep track of, and sometimes it gets away from me. Hopefully she can forgive me as well.
Now, what are you going to forgive yourself for today?