There are times when I find the art of forgiveness a challenge.
When I’m practicing my meditation, it seems to come more readily. Then I come back to reality and the rational brain kicks in and the peacefulness evaporates. The smaller acts of forgiveness are the ones that elude me the most. Take for example, the act of forgiving someone for their rudeness.
Why are some people so rude? It’s a question that vexes me.
I have a habit of saying hello to everyone present in the office I’m based in. It’s a small gesture, not meant to be anything grandiose. My intention is the acknowledgement of the presence of another human being. Uniformly though, there are a couple of people in our office who completely ignore me.
In truth, I’m not sure if they’re being rude or are simply so caught up in their own worlds that they don’t even hear me. Either way, it is anathema to me. I find myself wondering how hard it must be for them to grunt at another human being!
It’s the same when I’m walking in the street. I have been conscious of late that I almost uniformly step out of the way of others rather than holding to my path. I’m sure there are some deep seated psychological reasons that could explain this behaviour of mine. Intrinsically though I suspect there is something innate in me that naturally considers other human beings. In the past this has been to my own detriment.
There have been times when I have had to physically suppress the urge to elevate myself to my full 164cm height (that’s 5 foot 4 in the old language) and, with images of Dustin Hoffman in “Midnight Cowboy” swirling in my head, roar in my best New Jersey accent “I’m walking here”. One of my friends actually did this once with tremendous impact. She is a sassy, bold, unconventional soul and walking with her down the street in the CBD was often hilarious.
When you always consider others, rather than putting yourself first, a pattern of behaviour is formed that is hard to change. Slowly, subtly a feeling of resentment creeps into your subconscious and sits there, quietly eroding your childhood beliefs that you are the centre of your own universe. That little voice sits there, whispering “everyone else’s needs are more important than yours”. Over the years, this quiet whisper gets a little louder and more insistent until it becomes a dull roar. With luck, you will have the opportunity to tune into it, and, with even more courage, you will stop and roar back “Enough – my needs are important too!”
At the heart of this is, I suspect, a need to forgive yourself first and foremost. The act of “cutting yourself some slack” should be a daily, and in some cases, hourly practice.
Perhaps this is the hardest forgiveness of them all.