Thursday, March 6, 2014

Forgive yourself

I’ve had a little vacation from my computer when I sent my old one off to Ed in Florida. Lucky me, he transferred all her data to a new one - as long as Ed is around (thank God he is doing pretty well and about to be another “first” in getting a new-fangled treatment for stage IV metastasized prostate cancer) he still keeps our machines rotated and up-to-date. It felt good to have it gone, gone, gone. Like I was free from one of those enslaving robot pets that quack for mama duck all night. I looked at that empty spot on the desk and was happy not to hear the little ploops announcing the arrival of messages. It reminds me that there were days back when, when I still knew how to use paper and pen.
Now she's back. I call her Jane. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s Calamity Jane I’m thinking of - blazing fast and easy on the eye. I quite like her, but I’ve still been avoiding her, distracted as I am about selling, moving and buying the next place in life. It’s the best excuse I’ve had for not writing in about a hundred years. Don’t bother me, I’m sorting moldy tub toys that haven’t been used since my 36-year-old daughter was a baby. Go away, Denis and I are in intense and delicate conferences about finances and futures.
When pressure mounts to brain stroke intensity, I feel like beating myself up all the way from here to Glen Allen, Alaska. Then I realized something important about forgiveness. You need to forgive yourself, Einstein. Stop your ridiculous self-abuse.
I came across this by Ann Patchett and I’m pretty sure it applies to a lot more than writing:
     Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper, ... I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people form being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.  - Ann Patchett, “This-Is-Story-Happy-Marriage"
For me this translates to: I grieve most about lack of diligence. I can’t or don't write as much as I would like, but I can and will write what I can when I can. Does this make sense?


Jenny Poley said...

This does make sense. I think it is so easy to slip into thinking about what we don't do enough of, or what we didn't get done. Then, our time is wasted in regret or worry. I believe it is part of what Jesus meant when he said, "Don't worry about has enough troubles of its own."

When I was in college (3 decades ago), I read an article that spoke about guilt. Guilt is often wrapped up in not forgiving ourselves, I think. This article painted a picture of a sailboat, and that we tend to believe (as Christians) that guilt blows our little boat away from God.

However, God in his amazing creativity actually wants guilt to guide our boat to him. When we allow that, then we experience his forgiveness (which would have to be the root of all our forgiveness we extend to ourselves).

Great post, Margie. Thanks for the reminder. I have had to make some terribly difficult choices lately, and am thankful to read here and be reminded of grace and forgiveness.

Margie Haack said...

I like that analogy. thanks, Jenny.