Last year was weird for me—bouts of sobriety and celibacy contributed to my ongoing quest for clarity.
In between Vipassana and other forms of masochism, I reconnected with my estranged father. I went all the way to Michigan to sit across from him.
I made the choice to honor brand new voices and cravings within—stability, dependability, reliability—all qualities in the world I’d like to see. Somewhere along the road of last year, I realized I have to be willing to offer precisely that which I wished to receive.
If I want to have a father, I have to first be willing to be a son.
And just like that—an intention sprang from a moment of reflection.
Meeting my father, seeing him in me and watching as he boldly reconnected to his daughters has left me inspired to think that I am ready to offer (and receive) something special to and from humanity—gratitude for every face, humility, compassion in action, in a word—grace.
Life seems to continually repackage a single question—are you ready?
“Are you ready to forgive?”
Not just one thing, or somebody, but everything and everybody—from inequality and political systems, to perpetrators and their victims—are you ready?
To forgive scallywag, no child-support payin’, drug dealin’ Dad’s, cheating past lovers, and no-good, never calls on your birthday sons, mothers, or brothers?
Are you ready to forgive those who have wronged you, hurt you or broken you?
My buddy Todd Mussleman once said, “You don’t work on forgiveness, you just do it.” You do it right now or you risk letting your attachment, your hatred and old stories weigh you down. Forgiveness is a decision that takes place within you and it’s available to you right now.
It takes great strength to carry a weight around, but it requires real power to gracefully set one down.
Are you ready?
To let this moment be a platform for productive reflection, a springboard for your highest intention?
Before I parted ways with my father, he asked if we could call one of his daughters—though she lived barely five minutes away, he didn’t know he was a grandfather until that day.
He put her on speakerphone—afraid to be alone in his ongoing story of what their relationship was (and wasn’t). In that moment, my heart broke open as I watched a man—a boy, really—wanting so desperately to tell a girl that he loved her, but afraid that she wouldn’t want to hear it or that she wouldn’t want to say it in return.
I watched them talk and when I stood up to leave I looked him in the eye.
I said, “I love you, Pop.”
He took my hand, gave me a very manly, Midwestern half-hug and said, “I love you too.”
I told him I’d see him soon.
The old man took a chance—old story be damned—and reached out to her, got together with her and continues to. It’s inspired me and maybe it’s inspired his recovery too—does 18 years sober and 13 years without a cigarette inspire you?
Are you ready to forgive somebody, starting with you?
I forgive you.
Are you ready to forgive me?
Are you ready to toss it—all of it—into the fire, to “swaha some shit” so that we can all shine a bit brighter? At the end of the day—the beginning of a new year. The weight isn’t serving us, that much is clear.
Forgive, but don’t forget it. All that shit that’s made us who we are; all the choices that’ve brought us this far. All of them, as important as they were, pale in comparison—the sum total of them—to the choice we make right here.
What if instead of asking why, we asked ourselves what or how? “What’s available to us? How can I take a step right now?”
Right now I can think a forgiving thought to my pop. Right now I can pick up the phone and talk.
What do you need to let go of? Who can you forgive? If forgiveness is a gift, then give yourself this gift and swaha some shit.
Author: Justin Kaliszewski
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Author’s own