Posts tagged ‘The Disappearance of the Universe’

July 28, 2009

Water rings and forgiveness

In the spare bedroom at my grandmother’s house, she had some truly uncomfortable twin beds that my sister and I were unlucky enough to sleep on when we visited, and a beautiful dresser.   That dresser was solid maple, with a beautiful finish.  It was long, with 5 drawers down each side, and had a mirror above.  It was the mirror that we liked best; the two us would stand in front of that mirror for hours doing our hair.

When my grandmother died in 2004, that dresser came to live with me.  I filled it with my clothes and used it every day.  And every day I thought about my grandmother and how happy she would be that I still had her dresser and still loved it as much as she did.

That is, until today.

This morning, I discovered that my boyfriend had carelessly left a glass of water on the top of my grandmother’s dresser.  There is now a huge water ring that mars the otherwise beautiful finish.

I was angry — very, VERY angry — that this had happened.  I used some profanity to express my displeasure.  My grandmother, a church-going woman who never uttered a swore word in her life, would probably have seconded my sentiments.

Once I calmed down a bit, I started to look at the problem a bit differently.  I wanted to be able to forgive my boyfriend.  Although we have been dating a relatively short time, he is a great guy and I didn’t want to end the relationship over something like a dresser.  It really is just an object and objects are never as important as people.  This I know, but I wasn’t feeling it.

So I thought about the concept of forgiveness.  Recently, I was reading The Disappearance of the Universe, which is an odd book on many levels, but one that I find has ideas that make me see my life differently.  In that book, life is described as an endless series of events that give you the opportunity to see yourself as reflected in those around you.  Or, that events happen that gift you with the opportunity to forgive yourself.

It wasn’t that I had to forgive my boyfriend.

I had to forgive myself.

Because, as angry as I felt I was with him, I was actually even angrier with myself.  I had let my grandmother down.  She had owned that dresser for the entirety of my life and never gotten even a scratch on it.  I ruined it.  How was I to live with that?

So, I decided to forgive myself.  Right then and there.  Mistakes happen, even with the best of intentions.  And the dresser can be refinished.

Once I had forgiven myself, forgiving my boyfriend happened instantly.

My lesson to you: if you find yourself angry at other people, take a moment to realize that you may be angry at yourself.  Practice the art of forgiving you, of accepting that you are doing the best job you know how to do in this moment, of being gentle with yourself.  Your life won’t be magically different overnight, but keep practicing, pay attention to the opportunities given to you, and your life will be better for it.

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