“From a certain point onward, there is no turning back. That is the point that must be reached.” -Franz Kafka
These days the most painful part of life isn’t what happens to me, but rather what happens in me. On my recent 50th birthday, a close friend of mine dropped the ball. It wasn’t just her missing the party because of a work commitment, it was a total absence of contact for the entire week before. I was hurt and wondering whether to continue to engage in the relationship as I had. It wasn’t until she sent her own birthday invitation that I realized just how hurt I was, as my most primal pain body was ignited and I was unable to hold a loving thought.
Thankfully I had enough courage to sit down and share my feelings and she had enough courage to truly listen and apologize. If only forgiveness was that simple. Throughout the week, I have had to grapple with feelings that are not terribly becoming, thoughts that I don’t want to own and an ability to forgive that is incomplete. Actually I am not sure which is more painful, the initial event or the effects of not feeling loved that linger inside me and filter my ability to be myself in ways that I seem only able to witness but not control.
It is not very loveologist of me- this incomplete forgiveness and the shame of not being big enough to hold this only adds insult to the injury of not feeling lovable. There is enough that lingers, and it seems just to need a small prod to get fully inflamed. So I am leaning in my days toward the release that I know I cannot force and praying for compassion for myself as well as others when I get a card from a dear old friend who also missed my party.
Her note of belated birthday wishes also shared the tragic story of her cancer metastasized into most of her body. Suddenly the truth of life is revealed again to me as she grapples with her life ending before her sons leave their teen years. Love is all she is focused on she says, that she will love me forever as she always has. I weep for her love, for the love I only moments before couldn’t locate in myself, for the time I waste in this life doing anything but loving.
All we can do with this life really is to have the courage to bear witness to it. Truly bringing our fullest presence into each moment, broken or full of love; holding ourselves open and being willing to see. This is the heroic work of truly loving even the most unlovable and unattractive aspects that live in and between us. Everything that matters the most in this life happens in the space of not knowing, of surrender and open-hearted blind courage.
I am glad that I am finally ready to lean into these places, ready to stumble and fall if I must to break open my heart every time it says no. Wallace Stevens wrote, “After the final no there comes a yes, and on that yes the future world depends.” So true.