Forgiveness is a very strange thing. It’s the letting go of the past, escaping the wrongs that have been done to you. It’s an obvious moment of moving on. It’s cutting a tie to something negative in the past, not just for you, but for the person you forgive.
But you only move on by accepting it as a thing that happened. You allow the person you forgive to move on at the same time. You have to let someone else get away with hurting you, or someone you care about, in order to move on yourself.
You may not need to do that, but it seems to be the way forgiveness works.
It’s no wonder it’s conceived of as a spiritual notion. It requires an amount of selflessness of the deepest sort. You need to give freedom to someone who has wronged you. You repay an unkindness with kindness.
There’s something sacredly inexplicable about that notion. You may find a selfish benefit in the long run; theoretically, it’s a step towards letting the damage go for yourself. It’s absolutely a letting go. You let go of the hatred or anger, energy it takes to not forgive, and in doing so, you hopefully get rid of some of the hold that energy has on you. Forgiveness is like a knife freeing the past from the present. It’s picking up an anchor that ties you to another, and moving on, away from them. Or at least the them that they were then.
Forgiveness exists in more proximity too. Friendships are built on forgiving little weaknesses. Everybody is full of faults and problems, and we essentially spend our time with people acknowledging that those differences are part of them. Relationships and friendships are built on this implied promise that actually, the love transmitted surmounts a thousand tiny slights.
I think these are different kinds of forgiveness. But one gives us a model for the other. We build our friendships on forgiveness. We build our futures on the forgiveness of the past.
It’s this karma thing. It’s this reincarnation thing. It’s all of my obsessions at once.
Each moment, we begin. We have built ourselves up to a moment. The past brings us here, creates our present instant. In each instant, we are ready to cut ourselves free and sail, purposefully into our own ocean of future.
The future is immense and full of anything we want it to be. And the only thing holding us back is the past.
And we make those ties ourselves. They are ours to control. We are now, in this present moment, ready to begin. Forgiveness cuts some of the ties that bind. Forgiveness is our propellant. Forgiveness is basically love, for even the worst. And it’s the thing that can give us hope.
You should forgive when you’re ready. And that might never be.
But if you can, forgive now.
For the present is ripe, and the future is exploding in front of you.
Illustration by Emma