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Perplexing Longevities

Perplexing Longevities

"When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our own feelings. We become our own liberators. We don't forgive to help the other person. We forgive for ourselves."

As this year nears its end, I find myself reflecting on a lot of the events, and people, that passed through my life. Especially those that were particularly challenging to my values and my sense of self, or what I thought I knew about who I was. I have let time do a great deal of my healing, but my current reflections are causing me to question my own thoughts on forgiveness, what it means, and whether I should crack open old wounds that have healed with scars, to make sure I have done all I needed to do to forgive and allow myself proper closure.

Is forgiveness, specifically of another person who has caused emotional harm, wholly fruitful and complete without a conclusive conversation with that person addressing wrongdoings and attempting mutual understanding? Can I move on from pain the perpetrator is unaware of causing? Is an apology necessary? Would it even help anything? Does internal peace have anything at all to do with peace in my connections with others?

I come back, as questions like these emerge, to the Three Poisons of Buddhism. This teaching offers that there are three core causes of all suffering: attachment, aversion, and delusion, and letting go of these will allow for internal peace. I have found that in most cases, this path to peace and resolution can provide a more abundant healing process which reveals self-honesty, self-compassion, and self-trust. Finding these things and arriving at forgiveness both end up being paths we walk alone, and while conclusive conversations can provide a sense of satisfaction, I think the biggest take-away for me this year is that you do not need anyone else to help you arrive at your own satisfaction in this life. Below is a poem that I wrote addressing one particular struggle with forgiveness and the arrival at this liberating realization.

Spring 6 years ago

My heart sits, a protected target

in the web of spiders

You, broom in hand, come forward

I see in your eyes

Disgust

at how vulnerable I have made myself

by allowing little creatures to take away a piece of me

Your wince more for the mangled mess of web,

the question of proper removal from broom bristles

 

Spring 5 Years Ago

The Spanish Sky has warmed me

and I have exhaled the last of the smoke of you

Brimming with light I send forgiveness

and gratitude across the sky 

to you and you

send something back

And we are both holding new pieces of yesterday

 

Summer 5 years ago

I see you suddenly

feet away from me in the square

And I am struck 

by the urge to vomit or faint or cry

but instead I say hello to a dear

old friend

 

4 and 3 years ago

We ping each other's inboxes frequently

but you are far away again

We both have new lovers but I can't help finding

correlations in the ebb and flow of the pings

 

Winter 3 years ago

I sit in your car and hold your hand

as you tell me about not loving someone else

and we both wonder how spiders can live so long

 

Spring 2 years ago

You are here again and I have been here all this while

Together we lift up our shirts and let water run cold 

to show each other how time has changed our structures

 

Fall this year

You left and came back again

and we are both down here again

this time unsure of the way out

I bring you to the mountains to share my

trust for you with each creature dearest to me

and we bead together under cold rainfall

 

Winter-Now

You bring me back to the square where my heart stopped before

to tell me in front of the dear creatures that you have found your broom,

the mangled web,

that same unconsumed target that had been

carried off once again

My hands accept these gifts and I order another drink

 

Matted web and hair I pull from 

bristles remind me of Boston and new pieces of yesterday

And the dear creatures look on 

As you say you must be going

And the cold water is in my glass and on the street and in the sky and everywhere else

as I beg myself to go back and leave before fall.

 

We are both still here and the spiders are too and your broom leans against my wall.

I only use it sometimes to bang angrily on the ceiling at upstairs lovers.

 

You won't know when the last of the smoke of you has been exhaled or 

maybe even when I shoot my forgiveness across the Spanish sky once more

But the dear creatures will

find me and we will celebrate arriving again,

at the pre-forgiveness of you.

The Mountain

The Mountain

Coming Back

Coming Back