Day 9 of the @yoga_girl #yogagirlchallenge is True Forgiveness and this one brings tears to my eyes partially because The Beatles song, “Let It Be” began playing as I began to write, partially because I’ve had *some* wine and partially because I struggle with forgiveness. I think we all do.
When I was in marriage counseling struggling to forgive extramarital affairs, my therapist quoted Buddha, telling me that holding on to anger or withholding forgiveness is like holding on to hot stones with the intent to throw at another person, but expecting that you won’t get burned.
I got it then and I get it now. You’re not hurting anyone else but yourself by not forgiving, but I very much battle with the idea of forgiving a particular person and betrayal in my life. And what I’ve found is, that forcing forgiveness is as futile as starting a car without a battery. If you’re not ready, you're not ready and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So as I was thinking about this today, I realized that there was an act of forgiveness that I’ve been holding on to and am ready to let go of. It's really kind of ridiculous when it comes right down to it, but it’s a good example of how easy it is to let small stuff creep in to your psyche and affect other parts of your life.
I have this neighbor. He and his wife, I believe, live in one of the buildings on the street the runs perpendicular to the one where I live. He drives a very big, red van and spends the majority of his day finding places to park that are the least distance away from his front door.
This didn’t bother me, in fact I found it comical, until one winter evening when I was out walking Fable and the first dog I’d ever fostered, Redd. Fable knows me well enough to know ‘mama ain't got time for that’ when it comes to dawdling before piddling but Redd did not. As I’d already developed a pretty big soft spot in my heart for this little guy I was wiling to give him a little more slack. A little more slack that particular evening meant a longer walk to the other side of the street where Redd immediately became fascinated by a juicy smell in the grass near an apartment building. I stood with Fable and Redd sniffing around, but not doing anything else of note when all of the sudden I heard a booming voice come out of nowhere.
I looked up and out into the street.
“YEAH YOU! WITH THE DOGS! GET THEM THE FUCK OFF THE GRASS!”
My mouth dropped. I couldn’t believe he was talking to me like that.
“They’re not doing anything but sniffing,” I said. “They’re not hurting anything.”
“I TAKE CARE OF THAT PROPERTY AND I WANT THEM OFF THE GRASS! THERE’S A DOG PARK DOWN THE STREET! GET THEM THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY BUILDING!”
Now I was mad.
“I told you already, they AREN’T DOING ANYTHING BUT SMELLING! And if they DID do something else, I’d PICK IT THE FUCK UP! DON”T YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO?! THEY’RE DOGS! THIS IS WHAT THEY DO!”
Now he was mad(der).
“I TOLD YOU TO GET YOUR DOGS OFF THE FUCKING PROPERTY THAT I TAKE CARE OF! I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY’RE DOING GET THEM THE FUCK AWAY!”
“FUCK YOU!” I cried as I walked away, ashamed, hurt and immediately angry at myself for losing my temper.
“ANYTIME HONEY!” He cried back in retaliation and I froze. This was too far. Now it wasn’t just people getting NY angry at each other and doing a wee bit of yelling, now this felt…dirty…sexual…wrong. I bit my lip, fought back tears and raced the dogs back to my apartment.
Obviously this was months ago, but I see this guy ALL THE TIME. He moves his van daily, in accordance with NY street parking rules and it would appear this is his full time job. The apartment building that he so vehemently defended (from the safety of his double-parked van) I’ve never seen him tend to, nor have I ever witnessed him do anything other than remain double parked in the middle of a very busy street for hours on end, or sit in his van and wait for street parking rules to expire. Once I ran into him at the 7-11 across the street where I realized for the first time that he was morbidly obese and struggled not to judge him as he bought two litres of soda and a couple of bags of potato chips. Considering I was in there satisfying a sweet + salty fix, I had no room to judge, but I did, and I’m not proud of it.
I’ll be completely honest, it irks the hell out of me every time (every day!) I see him double parked and preying on that sweet parking spot that will allow him to walk the least distance from his car to front door, and every time I see him sitting in his car out waiting the time limit allotted for street cleaning I wonder what in God’s name he does for a job that affords him the kind of flexibility to make a full time job out of parking his car and harassing people.
But here’s the thing-I can postulate all I want, but the honest to God truth is, I have no idea. I don’t know who he is, what he does, where he comes from or the demons he may be fighting on a daily basis. My knowledge of him is comprised of a snapshot of experiences that haven’t been pleasant, but I admit, I've allowed myself the privilege of being self-righteously mad for a really ridiculous reason. And now I understand that forgiveness is not just a pretty word to say, but an action to complete, to live and then to let go of.
If I forgive, and I mean, truly forgive, this guy tonight then I let go of the anger I’ve harbored and fueled each time I step outside my apartment and see his van. I let it go for his sake cause who needs a loud, angry blonde passively-aggressively mad at them?!) and for mine. I’m tired of burning myself in preparation for a battle I was never willing to fight.
Peace. Forgiveness. In your own time, and your own way. It’s the only way.
To the van-man. I forgive you. I wish you peace, happiness and the most perfect parking spot for the rest of your life.