While I understand and can see many of the items in my life to which I am attached, or things that I hoard – like sci-fi novels, coffee, and big earrings – there are other dimensions of attachment or hoarding that are harder to look at. Anger, for one. Fear, another. Resentment. Do I also attach and hoard these things?
Yes. It’s obvious when a little sleep deprivation and a wacko on the freeway wind me up into a cuss-o-rama. To be truly well in our lives, we cannot harbor anger or resentment. In Meditations from the Mat, Gates tells a story about himself and the anger he held in his life. Even as he prayed, meditated, participated in therapy sessions and practiced yoga, he was still prone to irrational bouts of resentment. His teacher made him realize, “As long as I was angry with anyone, I harbored anger, and I was therefore an angry person.” To be angry is unforgiving, and the first step to wellness is forgiveness.
This passage really made me think about who I needed to forgive. I immediately thought of my childhood best friend, who during the end of both our sixth and seventh grade years, turned the cold shoulder on me. Her excuse? She just “got sick of me.” I was heartbroken, and didn’t realize it for a while, but it gave me a deep distrust of women in general. The rest of my middle and high school years, and well into my first few years of college, I only had close male friends and roommates. To this day, I harbor anger that my childhood BFF could drop me so quickly and so heartlessly. It crushed me.
I have not forgiven her. It’s been what, fifteen years, and I still haven’t forgiven her. As Gates puts it, I’m harboring this anger and it makes me an angry person. Just this week, I’ve had some unfortunately situations that, had I not been so quick to anger and resentment, I may have flown through quite easily. I don’t want to be angry or get frustrated easily, and so I must learn to forgive.
Gates says that he was instructed to go to each of the people he harbored resentment toward and speak to them, including a formal forgiveness. In my head, I’m making all of the same excuses about doing this that Gates mentions, especially, “Yeah, but So-and-so would never speak to me even if I tried.” Plus so much time has gone by. But to these protests Gates says, “The spiritual life is always about letting go. It is never about holding on.”
I’m not ready. Not yet. I know I’m not ready because if I were to act today, it would probably be in the form of a Facebook message or something, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t count. I hope I get there soon. I’ll keep you posted.