Forgiveness Is A Lesson

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Happy Solstice.

It’s ten pm and bits of orange and lavender are just showing up on the horizon. The moon is a pale crescent across the still-lit sky.

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Happy Father’s Day.

I spoke to my Dad tonight with a mix of sadness and gratefulness. Gratefulness because, you know, my Daddy. And sadness because, well, I see the struggle to cross the bridge of communication. It’s nine pm in France and noon in LA. He’s retired and I’m burning the candle at both ends. He’s ready to listen but I’m too tired to talk.

No matter how much you love some one, you still have to learn their language and feel out their rhythm and even when you manage, all the love we can muster doesn’t change the fact that humans being misunderstand each other and misunderstand ourselves and don’t manage to love everyone and often fail the worst at accepting ourselves and our life’s conditions enough not to blame others.

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Of course, I am thinking about South Carolina. A lot of thoughts have crossed my mind, but they are too complex and political to fully articulate late Sunday night.

I can’t help wonder, though.

When we use the word, “injustice,” how far do we stretch the line of blame? The gunman, his educators, the government, history? Can we honor the dead without putting somebody else’s head on a pike? Can we recognize wrongdoing without criminalizing those who carry it out? When we talk about violence, where do we find its root?

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We live in a society that cultivates violence and thus breeds the type of individual that carries it out. When we focus on division, we invite more standard bearers and more trigger-pullers.

The media plays on inciting indignation. We get more and more riled up, and I just wonder when we are going to consume ourselves in this desperation for justice. Has there been an act of violence in this world that wasn’t based on a sense of seeking justice? How much, by wishing for things to be right, do we continue to make them wrong?

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And, if this is the case, what other action is possible? In the face of violence, in the face of loss and aggression and lack of control, what is the other option between doing nothing and being a bystander and buying into the blame and becoming a perpetrator? How do we consciously, peaceably act to stop the cycle?

Being right does not seem to be the solution. Being forgiving has not been popular throughout history and up until now, has not sold as many papers as being incensed and righteous. Maybe the brave relatives of the Charleston victims can help change that. Maybe they can help us start to answer these questions.

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A Thing to Draw and a Journey

An Old Hotel, ink on paper, 5 3/8″ x 8 1/2″

Hi there. Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been a week, and by that, I mean a helluva week. It’s also been over a week since I last posted, which is technically a breach of contract, since I committed to posting at least once a week when I started writing this blog. I am apologetic for that, but I am also working on not minding, or at least, not holding it against myself. Beating myself up for mistakes I have made is an unconscious habit of mine, and while I consider it a fairly human habit, I am really, seriously working on it right now. Forgiveness is the theme of the moment.

Forgiveness for hurting others in the struggle to support myself. Forgiveness for hurting myself in the struggle to navigate life.

Unlike in California, spring exists in the mountains of Arizona. It looks like this, among other things.

I took a trip to Arizona to visit two of my closest friends for their graduation and to give myself space to start healing from a recent choice to leave some one that I love to pursue my own path. Spending time with old friends is both a balm and a new ache. I am blessed to know so many wonderful, strange souls. Being in their presence reminds me that there are indeed others who find science poetic and nature hilarious, art impossible to live with and impossible to live without, and the whole tumult of being a human just absurd in general and therefore fantastic. It is hard though, figuring out where to look for such people away from the moth light of academia.

A home once mine in a town once mine.

This is one cornerstone of the forgiveness puzzle. Understanding that the struggle to find community, purpose, and affirmation post-college is not a failing on my part, but an almost unavoidable aspect of life for those of us who have the privilege to pursue and benefit from higher education. In college, you self-select to meet people with similar interests, values, and goals, and then come together underneath the banner purpose of your school and major. At Prescott College, we were “for the liberal arts, the environment, and social justice.” It’s a damn good crowd of passionate, opinionated, proactive, and magnificently humorous people. And I miss them. And I miss the shared momentum and joy. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay to wonder how I will ever get by in life when I some times feel so alone on the path. I’m not truly alone, and it becomes easier to move through moments of loneliness when I’m not caught up in resenting myself for them. This is what I am learning.

Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) is recognizable by its unique checkered bark and ability to incite wonder and acceptance in the hearts of observers.

And then there is forgiveness for love lost and love given away. For hurting some one I care for. For being so angry at myself for choosing to leave that I did it utterly unskillfully. For missing him even though I made the choice to be on my own. For berating myself for all of the above. And even for this: being chaotic and confessional, rather than steady and unswayed. I wrote an essay once relating myself to a forest and its fire cycle: we go up in flames so that new seeds may germinate. It’s an apt and a comforting metaphor, but at times I can’t help aching to be calm and resolved instead of wild and reckoning. To be even instead of tumultuous. To be some way other than the way I am. Forgiveness for that. I can feel it growing among the embers.

Thanks to pinyon-juniper woodlands and the butterscotch smell of Ponderosa pine trees for cradling me in my sadness. Thanks to you all for love and patience.