Big doin's around here. At least in my head. I'm back to working on forgiveness. And this time it is a little closer to home. This person is someone who is still in my life and is likely to be for a good, long time. And, while I knew somewhere deep in my ugly innards that I hadn't forgiven her, I didn't honestly think about it much, or acknowledge that this might be a problem. But I've bumped up against it hard lately and it is causing a swirling ball of heartburn in my gut.
What I know about myself is that when emotions cause me physical pain it is time to go to work. So I pondered as I ran on the treadmill the other day. What is it that I am so angry about? Why does it matter again so much right now in my life? And as I flitted around the edges, testing the water with a toe now and then, I had to admit that this is a big pool.
And, since Lake Mead (and Hoover Dam) weren't built in a day, I decided that flitting around the edges is good for now as long as I remain receptive to the messages that come my way. Didn't take long. As I was flipping through old magazines looking for articles to preserve before recycling the rest, the first page I came to sported an essay called "Lighten your load: Cleaning out your attic - and your mind." The very first paragraph references the Buddhist practice of nekkhamma, letting go of "ideas to which we may have been clinging for years, things that cause us stress."* I don't even remember reading this article when I first bought the magazine.
Later in the same issue there is an article about blaming and judgment. It's fairly lengthy, but since I was in "open-mind mode," I decided I'd better settle in and at least skim the entire thing. About halfway through, something jumped out. "...it's good to ask what I am afraid of being or becoming or what I am not tolerating in myself....It's also good to notice the speed with which blame happens. It's as if I have to get rid of something so fast that I don't even have time to look at it."**
I am quick to judge this particular person, all the while silently accusing her of being too critical of others.
But what I'm beginning to realize is that my biggest problem is with my expectations of her and how she always falls short. I'm setting her up (at least in my mind) to fail. Because I get some sort of perverse pleasure in knowing that she is repeating the pattern of not being who I want her to be. Even though there is a part of me that desperately wants her to rise to the occasion.
When I'm being brutally honest with myself, I have to admit that even if she could, by some miracle, read my mind, assess my goals for her, and achieve them, it wouldn't be enough. I would mark it as a fluke, or raise the stakes next time, or just be pissed off that she hadn't done that years before now, if she was capable of it.
*This article can be found in the Winter 2010 issue of Tricycle Magazine and was written by Allan Lokos
**Same issue of Tricycle Magazine. The article is The Seventh Zen Precept: Not Elevating Oneself and Blaming Others, written by Nancy Baker