This phrase from “The Princess Bride” echoes in my mind from time to time. In the context of the movie, Westley is telling Prince Humperdinck in detail how he is going to make the prince suffer for his wrongs – “to the pain.” Not to the death. Not to the humiliation or exile. To the pain.
This would, in theory, play itself out after Westley had physically disfigured the prince leaving only his ears perfectly intact. The cries of horror from those who cast their eyes on him were to be the prince’s only feedback for the rest of his life. To the pain: a lonely life filled with regret and a never-ending sense of hopelessness.
To Westley’s credit, he never actually fulfilled this plan. But what, then, was his purpose in purporting such a bleak future to his enemy? My personal opinion is that Westley’s character was showing the powerful quality of true forgiveness.
Sure, Westley did take advantage of the opportunity to tell Humperdinck what he truly thought of him. He boldly stood in the face of he who had caused him so much harm despite the fact that Westley was only partially recovered from having just been “mostly dead” by the prince’s hand. Humperdinck neither knew nor cared about the fallout Westley was experiencing. Humperdinck’s hubris (which fueled this ignorance) leaves me wondering if he was ever able to conceive of what Westley extended to him at this, their last meeting.
Nevertheless, the gift was not for the prince anyway. It was for Westley’s own integrity and honor. Westley extended forgiveness in the form of mercy to Humperdinck that day because he knew that living with a clear conscience was more important than hurling venom at his nemesis. Taking the opportunity to hurt the one who hurt him measured up to be fruitless compared to the hope Westley had for his future. This must have taken wisdom, self-control, and a realization that active bitterness does not equal peace.
True forgiveness doesn’t necessarily benefit the one being forgiven. It is for the forgiver. It releases us from a prison of harbored resentment keeping the offender forever alive in our hearts. It also keeps us the victim. Most often the one who caused us harm is merrily going about their life unaware of or hardened to the pain they have caused. And of what use is it for us to continue to go over a wrong? Do we really need to relive a painful time over and over again? There is a more prolific path…
Westley let it go. He moved on. He forgave to benefit his own peace of mind. I’d like to think that for the rest of his life when the prince came to mind, Westley blessed him in his heart. After all, it was the prince who was the one to pity. Humperdinck lived his life by the principles of manipulation which he used for selfish gain. And gain he did…to the pain.
I fell asleep around three hours ago. I was so exhausted. It was a relief because I thought that I might have trouble. But no. It’s the 2am hour that is difficult. When I wake up to that moment stripped of all reason and my heart cries, “what? where? why?” It is now that the night becomes my friend and the soundlessness my favorite song.
Facebook friends. They are. But sometimes it’s mostly me talking to myself. Maybe that is ok. I’m going to go do that now.
So now I am alone. Alone alone.
I have an abundance of mixed feelings and thoughts. My comfort is this, writing. Not in a journal that gets stashed in a drawer for only my eyes to see but here, out in the open. It makes me feel less lonely when I write here. My words will exist and live and maybe, if they are supposed to, they will do someone else some good. Even if they never do, the hope that they might is enough for me.
I am continuing with my month of leaving the past behind. I’m still not sure if it is totally healthy only because I don’t want to stuff anything. Most of my motivation is so that I know what is going on right now. My inspiration is to not live in a clouded blend of what I thought would be and what actually is. My goal is to remember my past in only a positive way. Pain does happen, but we heal.
Another issue is that the older one gets, the more past there is. What to do with it? Get resolved as quickly as possible and move on because time is precious. I have to admit, it pains me to be moving on without the one person I thought would still be here with me. And thinking farther than this minute is not really possible for me right now. So I will just try to be ok in this minute while it is still this minute.
(I spent the better part of the last 21 years either denying my feelings, stuffing them, being detached from them, or believing they were bad. Times when I’d actually realize it, I figured that it was for my own good because before then I was led almost exclusively by emotion. That kind of life proved interesting but not always easy or profitable. I thought that I had been cured of feelings. I supposed I was better off.)
(Christianity taught me that I shouldn’t feel anger or fear. If you see a Christian and they look very happy, maybe they are or maybe they are suffering from the same illness I experienced. The sickness of religion. Why do pastors and priests go wayward? Why has the church got it so wrong for so long? God isn’t afraid of our feelings, only Christians are. I am so tired of the facade. The rest of the world seems more open to accepting people as they are than the one group that is supposed to be known for its love. But no. The Christian is known for hate. Hating the LGBT community, hating divorced people, hating the poor, hating the ones who don’t quite fit in. That’s their legacy right now. And its sad because I think that it must look very bad for God. God is better than that. God loves all people and doesn’t ask anyone to change for him to love them.)
(Outside of that lived a striking irony. Feelings ended up being the cause of me losing them. A few acts driven by pride and anger, unforgiveness and indignance took me on a road where the scenery was always grey. During this time I was truly mislead by my own sense of righteousness due to unnecessary and self-proclaimed martyrdom.)
So what is my point? I just found it. It’s perspective. How we see things. That is my point. And I think I’ve been seeing all this from only one direction. I’m rereading what I just wrote and I’m like – dang. I see a lot of tones of: “Poor me. Oh look at all I’ve gone through”….Wow. That is the sickness right there.
I first learned about forgiveness in my mid-twenties. The way is was framed to me then was that it’s an act of our will. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. We pay for positive feelings like peace on credit as we bless those who hurt us. One day we realize that our hearts don’t hurt as much as they used to. We curiously find that the story we tell about our pain feels distant and unfamiliar, like it happened to someone else. Then, perhaps, it’s time to let it all go.
Felines prowling in the same neighborhood. A pronounced over-the-shoulder glare from one pair of yellow eyes to another. Kitty eyelids narrow. The first warning.
Silky smooth black fur affronts the stern request to vacate. She sits where she was found as a trespasser. Defiantly, her posture suggests a willingness to contend.
Five-year-old-sized multicolored sundress straps tied in bows won’t stay put as she skips in front of the wedding reception’s small procession. Her parents, cousins, uncle, and new aunt follow the self-chosen leader. Ahead, the amber building spans the entire length of a memory, perpendicular to their joyful trajectory. Continually smiling and skipping in her Dr. Scholl’s sandals, the sun becomes her first admirer and friend.
Everyone that is alive now or has ever been alive is an artist. It is inherently human to create. It doesn’t have to hang in art gallery. It doesn’t even have to ever be seen or noticed by anyone. Maybe you say you are not creative but you love mowing the lawn. Then you are creating. You are an artist. Think of anything that causes beauty and you will find creative inspiration behind it. Start thinking of yourself as an artist. You are.
The lowest layers of thin blue clouds move with their friends to the east. A few fall to the ground. Higher layers remain stationary. Stripes, wisps, mounds. Their continuity of change continues each moment. The orchestration is freedom. Called to a cyclic destiny.