“Forgiveness…A New Practice for Me”
By Rock Kitaro
Date: December 26, 2014
“Forgive but never forget…”
For the longest time that statement has seemed mature, wise and innocuous, but for some reason a brooding glare of retaliation washes over. I’ve just come out of a personal phase over the past couple of months in which I’ve taken a lot of time to reexamine the kind of person I’ve become. To better myself from this point on I think I’m going to try something new.
Ever since I was 17, the driving force behind my wanting to succeed has primarily come from the negative energy instead of positive. When we think of positive energy, we typically think of encouragement and support from friends and family. I didn’t have a lot of that growing up when it came to things that I enjoyed and wanted to do. I’m sure a lot of teenagers can relate to that.
Well into my junior year of high school, it was my drama teacher who encouraged me to use the abundant amount of negative energy that I was submersed in as motivation. She told me that she saw so much potential in me, that I had stage presence and talent. She told me to use those negative emotions as motivation to be productive and succeed.
But is that healthy? Is that how want to continue to live my life? Is that what I want to run on when I get married? Is it what I want to pass down when I have children?
In my heart of hearts, I’m really a good guy. Sensitive, passionate, and more so, I’m a walking contradiction. A living breathing oxymoron. Ever since I was a kid I loved martial arts and really enjoy fighting. But at the same time I’d rather not hurt or inflict pain on anyone, even my worst enemies mentally or physically. I’d wish it. I’d think it. But if I do end up hurting others, it’s usually based on impulse more so than premeditation. And even in that, I’m working on. I won’t even use the excuse that “patience has its limit.”
And so goes the story of my life where those who have offended me, never felt like they’ve offended me and thus won’t offer any apology or make any recompense. Or when they do apologize, it’s usually empty or holds no weight. Insincere and disingenuous. They dished out backhanded comments like “it’s not that big a deal” or “I’m sorry YOU feel that way”. I laugh at it now, but way back before I got to the core of why I thought such statements were ridiculous, it only exacerbated my rage. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt this way.
Instead of lashing out and breaking bones, which could lead me to jail, probation and possibly lawsuits worth of medical bills, I stored all of that resentment and animosity only to burn and feed off of when I feel like giving up. When I feel tired and don’t want to finish that hour on the treadmill. When the chances and possibilities of my success are against me I tap into that negative energy and pick myself up and keep pushing, keep working, keep striving. Never give up. Never stay down. Keep going!!!
But is that healthy? Is that the way I want to continue to live my life? Is that what I want to run on when I get married? Is it what I want to pass down when I have children?
I confess, the thought of doing my best simply because someone shouts “I believe in you” still does little for me. A complex inside me still doubts their encouragement and I only transfer it back to negative energy.
So how do I change? How do I improve?
I believe the answer lies in that age-old powerful, yet complicated practice of forgiveness.
In that regards, I look to the example of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the vindictive and violent nature of my written works, I honestly do try to live my life with Jesus as an example. Of course that’s easier said than done when you’re surrounded by immoral influence. Even Jesus had twelve disciples to fall back on but that’s alright. Love thy neighbor and all that.
A couple of weeks ago, I started watching a lot of old epic films like the “Ten Commandments”, “Cleopatra,” “Becket” and “The Robe.”
The Robe, specifically…I admit brought me to tears. Reading what happened in the past is one thing, but when its dramatized so emphatically by world class talents, it really helps you put into perspective how significant history is whether you believe in the Bible or not. In the movie, Judas Iscariot is met by Demetrius the slave where Judas says that Jesus was betrayed by someone close to him. When Demetrius asks why Jesus was betrayed, Judas was wrought with guilt and regret when he says:
“Because men are weak. Because they are cursed with envy and cowardice. Because they dream of the truth, but they cannot live with it.”
In the 2nd and 3rd Acts of the film, the main character, a Roman Tribune named Gallio, feels cursed and is tormented by the fact that he was the soldier who supervised the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Years later when Gallio returns to Palestine and meets with Peter, Gallio confesses what he done and how he was plagued by a crushing guilt. But Peter tells Gallio that he was already forgiven. Jesus Christ forgave Gallio from the cross.
And in that moment…I was brought to tears. After witnessing how he had to carry the cross through the crowded streets, how they nailed him to the cross and laughed as they hoisted him up. To go through all of that and still forgive them…It’s so hard for me to comprehend.
When people think of superheroes, I think they subconsciously admire them because superheroes do seemingly the impossible. They possess the abilities that we wish we could have. In that regards…I admire Jesus. Because he did what I seriously have a hard time doing. I’ve carried grudges and resentment for years. I’ve reveled in the pain and reminded myself of my hatred of them. It’s fueled me like a mad dog…a monster.
No more. I no longer want to hang on to those chains of abhorrence. I want to wash myself of the anger and rage and that means I had to forgive. I had to let go. And that’s something one can’t do just because another tells them to. So many times, I’ve seen that in the movies and I’ve have had small-minded friends tell me to “let go”. As if it’s a f**king light switch in my head. It takes time, and no one should judge another by how long it takes individually. But thankfully, I have. I had to forget about the owed apologies and explanations because I’m no one’s master. And holding my breath waiting for other people to do the right thing would’ve ended me a long time ago.
But even after I’ve spent that past month simply forgiving others and letting go of the hurt and strife…there’s still the lingering phrase in my mind. “Forgive them Rock. But never forget.”
That phrase sounds so conflicting, doesn’t it? How does one forgive someone, yet never forget what the person did? It took me only five days to come up with an answer to that, and I’m not even sure if I’m right. Either way, I’m willing to put it to the test and find out. My theory is this:
“Similar to alleged famous Gandhi quote about “being the change you wish to see in this world,” I believe there is something missing. Or rather a caveat that should be added. Be the change you wish to see in this world, sure. But limit your expectations of ever seeing that change happen in the near future or even your lifetime.
In that aspect, “Forgive, but never forget.” Should be specified with the caveat, the thing that you shouldn’t forget is not necessarily what the other person has done to you. Instead, you should never forget the lesson you learned from that situation. Can you differentiate between what the person has done and the lesson?
I can. It’s the answer to, “Rock. Why do you put yourself in situations in which you know you’re probably going to get hurt.”
Such a silly question, considering how the same people asking me that are also the same people telling me that I should “live life.”
Hahaha! That’s all I’ll say about that. I would give you a prime example of a situation that happened recently but if I did, I’d be repeating a mistake that burned me severely because it involved people I knew on a personal level.
I think, as ever, the key lies in self-reflection. Reflect on your actions good or positive. Every single day. Examine what you did and how you could’ve done it better. Don’t blame anyone else. Instead, anticipate their interaction and plan accordingly. That way, even when they do inconvenience you, you can either laugh at how right you were, or grind your teeth, blaming yourself for not seeing that coming.”
Of course this philosophy may not work for everyone. My parents taught me decades ago to reflect on my actions and I still haven’t reached Maslow’s level of self-actualization. But I’M UP THERE!
On a side note, this also answers the self-doubt I feel when I do good things for others. Sometimes I feel bad because I’m aware of my own ulterior motives and I wondered if the ulterior motives made it impossible for me to be selfless. I come to the conclusion that unless an act is spontaneous, there is absolutely no such thing as a selfless act. There are always motives or reasons towards a particular course of action no matter how generous or helpful they are. Many just aren’t aware of those reasons. Does that make them any more selfless than me?
Maybe…Or maybe I just have a higher level of self-awareness than most. Just maybe.
I believe being able to forgive others really will make the road a bit easier. I don’t feel so heavy and I’m not wasting so much energy hiding my discontent because it’s been significantly reduced.
Also, I read that when it comes to your mind, so much mental production happens when you’re faced with conflict or problems, forcing your mind to think of solutions. But if there are no problems, it opens me up to fill my mind with more useful knowledge like…The top ten unconventional uses of nanotechnology, or the top ten amazing military achievements by underdog nations. Seriously…learned so much about Ethiopia recently. Like they’ve never been successfully invaded. And they even sent in troops to fight in a Korean war. Astounding! 😀 😀 😀