Scott and I have talked a lot lately about how it feels to leave your familiar life behind and careen into something wholly new. In 2004 he left Los Angeles after 18 years in the music business to try something different in Phoenix. He did this alone and felt the emptiness that came with watching all things familiar in the rear-view mirror.
The jarring feeling I'm living with, all day every day, is one of feeling totally lost. As Scott puts it: Your tank is being emptied. And it'll feel like hell until you start to fill it up again (i.e. new friends, new church, new job). He carried the metaphor further and said maybe while the tank is empty, this is a good time to check out its condition, scrub the inside, etc.
I then demanded that he stop stretching the tank metaphor. It was about to snap like a rubber band around a watermelon.
But he's right. And actually I can't help
looking at what I have left after life as I knew it has been poured out onto the ground and the campfire is snuffed.
One thing I've been reminded of, one thing I really didn't want to invite back into the light of day: The people I need to forgive. There are a few. I've needed to forgive them for a long-ass time, and still I haven't. Forgiving is hard. There's a church marquee near here that says "Life is an adventure in forgiveness." Yeah. My ass. "Adventure" is going to the mall. It's running from a garden snake. It's meeting Fabio. Forgiveness is more like having your head rammed into a bucket of shit. It's dark and unpleasant and smelly and you just want it overwith. I know: forgiveness is supposed to be so
much better for you after you do it. Blah blah. I still haven't.
Here's a poem I wrote a couple years ago when I was making a semi-annual effort to just get over some old stuff. I'll forgive you if you don't read it.Trying to Forgive
I've been told that it's helpful to look past the rotten things
he did to me. Look all the way beyond who he is
and picture a small version of Jesus living inside him
like a little plastic statue, down near the base of his spine.
Then I should aim my forgiveness there, shoot it out
like a golden thread of light, a divine laser beam
right smack dab onto his hidden Messiah.
Well, what if that Jesus is so small it would take
a forgiveness sharpshooter to hit it? A lousy aim like mine
hasn’t got a cat’s chance in hell of hitting a Jesus the size of a Junior Mint.
No really, I’m talking small. Like the head of the pin where the angels supposedly dance,
even their bunions holy and glowing with blessedness. Small, like a single scale
scraped off a fish the size of a comma.
Oh I know what you’re thinking—
that this story will turn around and I'll say
And then I realized that this sad small speck
I was looking for wasn’t the Jesus at all, but my own heart.
You want a poignant moment, something sweet,
like when the Grinch takes all the toys back to Whoville.
Yeah, I’d go for that story too, eat it up like a finger sandwich,
and wash it down with a nice herbal tea.
But my heart, dear reader, grew too large.
It turned into a steamroller and backed over me.
I am now a long stretch of highway.