Sunday, August 1, 2010
today i went swimming in a lake. i'm an ocean girl and comically the state park dubbed the softened dirt area adjacent to the lake as a "beach". i scoffed judgmentally at this affront to true beaches. internally i thought, "oh how disappointing to not be at the 'real' beach." for those of you who know me i have an abnormal love of the ocean.
as i sat down on the beach and the gentle mountain breeze danced around me a great deal of my weekly stress melted away. i plunged my toes into the lake water thinking that it might not be quite as satisfying as immersing myself in the salty wondrous ocean, but was pleasantly surprised. the cold rocky mountain water shocked me right out of my coastal judgments. i was delighted by the way the water took me in and realized the absurdity of me placing judgment or attributing disappointment to this lovely lake. how ridiculous was it that i was projecting negative feelings on a body of water that has no obligation to the world besides for existing fluidly in its natural location.
while swimming in the lake and realizing that perhaps my love of water is not sea bound, i reflected on forgiveness. i work in mental health and everyday speak with so many people who have suffered greatly and often unjustly. their lives and dilemmas are nuanced, yet it seems that there is a simple line separating those who can move on and thrive vs. those who cannot move beyond their issues. the bottom line seems to be forgiveness.
the twisted roots of resilience are fed by forgiveness. are we able to forgive people who have wronged us? are we able to let go of disappointment and anger? when confronted with even the simplest of experiences, like my encounter with soda lake, can we unbind ourselves from our judgments and let the experience wash over us? when a disease is eating away at our very physical being can we fight it with dedication and drive without being consumed by hatred and resentment? can we forgive world systems that oppress us or those we love while still advocating against them? can we be forgiven? perhaps most importantly, can we forgive ourselves for self-elements that are disappointing or unsavory? can we be healers?
these are big questions. these are cliche questions.these are very real questions. there is not a simple answer to any of them. some days i wake up and am quite good at letting go and being open to what life brings me. some days i throw little internal tantrums and feel that i must deserve some large prize for my trivial issues. i think most days i just do my best to embrace the people, images, and ideas in my life since it's a pretty precious experience to be living.
the stanford univeristy forgiveness project studies how the ability to let go and make peace with the various troubles in our lives promotes not only mental health, but cardiovascular health as well. although holding anger and entitlement seems to be a natural, it is not healthy for us.
i do not have the answer about how to forgive or how to move forward. all i know is that it requires a great deal of honesty and dedication to breathing deeply, to seeing what is amazing in your life, to empathizing with others, and to doing something that adds a little beauty to your community.
that is all for now. thanks for reading the stream of consciousness post. wishing everyone out there a healthy heaping dose of forgiveness pie...
photos: from another stress releiving trip i took to the denver botanical gardens this week...