Forgiveness

Have you ever forgiven yourself?

Have you ever just relaxed and let go of all the blame and bad feelings you carry around about yourself? Let go of the blame for the terrible things you did, and let go of the deep regret for the things you wanted to do but never could?

Today I was in Harajuku station, on the top level above the tracks when I looked down and saw my train pulling into the station. Since I was still on the top level I thought I might miss the train, but I decided not to run. If I missed it and had to wait, that would be OK.

So I walked quickly down the stairs. The train was very full, but at one door I saw a small space, in front of a salaryman and next to a woman in a beautiful coat. I hurried to the door, spun around, and slipped into the space as the door closed. Made it!

The train started and I looked up at the video screen above the door that showed the minutes to each station. The next stop was Shibuya, but I couldn’t read the kanji for Shibuya. And I thought, I can’t read that kanji, even after all this time in Japan!

And small rush of regret went through my mind. Regret for things I wanted to do but never finished, and things I did that I shouldn’t have. Small things and big things…how I had wanted to learn more kanji by now but stopped, and how I wished I had bought a different model of phone, and talked to more people and written more stories, and emailed my grandparents, and did more of the things I wanted to do.

And then suddenly right there on the train a feeling came up through me, a powerful voice…You did the best you could.

You did the best you could!

I don’t know where this voice came from. I guess my energy was just right. I got good sleep last night, and filmed some exciting video today, and had a good lunch with friends, and I made it to the train without rushing. 

For that moment, I felt great. But still the world moved on around me, full of judgments.

It seems that from the time we are children we are judged, first by our parents, then our friends, then our coworkers, but mostly by ourselves. The judgements build up until they are a part of our minds, an endless poison stream. We are never good enough.

Until we tell ourselves that we are good enough, no matter what.

And I imagined at that moment, on the train, a benevolent force coming down and enfolding everyone in warmth, whispering to us to take a deep breath, and just say the words.

You did your best, and you are forgiven.

Forgiven for the things you wanted to do but didn’t, the things you couldn’t, the mistakes you made, the regrets you have. 

Of course we can always do better. We can try to live better lives and give the best of ourselves to the world, but at the same time, we have to forgive ourselves so that we can move forward.

Otherwise the ocean of judgments will drown us. There is always something going wrong to bury all the things that are right and perfect in the world. The truth is always hidden.

The salaryman behind me, the woman in the beautiful coat, the lonely teenager with her head bowed in the corner. Each of them was perfect and beautiful in their own way.

In this moment of release, we can breathe again, and be free. And in that moment, it’s much more likely that we will do the right thing, smile at a stranger, tell someone they are loved. When we are free.

As the train pulled in to Shibuya, I imagined a big bell floating above us. And every day that bell would ring, and a wave of love would wash across the city, and for that moment, until the sound of the bell faded, all sins are forgiven, all dreams fulfilled.


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