I’ve been feeling rather resentful lately, struggling with a bunch of petty crap. Really, my life isn’t so bad. I live in a great city, with good friends and a job that pays well. The only suffering I experience is what goes on in my head.
But anyway: I suffer. Depression has caught up with me again. I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything to society. I’m not living my passion (as my Facebook friends continually exhort me to do by posting inspiring picture-quotes). I feel like my job is slow and tedious. People are getting on my nerves. I just want to hide away. Last night I had a dream that a sketchy-looking guy on a waterfront pier told me he could help me disappear and start a new life. I almost took him up on it.
Today was World Suicide Prevention Day. At the local library, a panel of five people from five religions gathered to talk about forgiveness and its effect on wellness, in the context of mental health and suicide prevention. I’m glad I went.
A question came up that got me thinking: How does forgiveness help us find hope for a better future (and thus prevent suicide)?
That’s when I heard Jack Nicholson in my head: “What if this is as good as it gets?”
What if there is no hope for a better future? What if the circumstances of my life won’t get any better? What if I will always have problems? What if life never stops being annoying?
What if the only way to end my suffering is either to end my life, or to forgive my life for being what it is?
To forgive everyone in my life for being imperfect. To forgive myself for making mistakes. To forgive traffic lights and annoying co-workers and inconvenient weather.
What if I can forgive and accept my life and everyone and everything in it, exactly as it is, exactly as we all are? I don’t think that would be “hope” in the traditional sense. Hope demands that circumstances change. Forgiveness does not.
So, if I could completely forgive everyone and everything, could I find relief from the suffering of resistance to life? Could I even find bliss?
Something in me knows this is the only way out: to find peace and joy in forgiveness and acceptance.
Something else in me knows I’ll forget this truth the next time I get stuck at some idiot traffic light.
But I can make an attempt today.
And maybe another one… the day after tomorrow.
(And forgive myself for the suffering I cause myself in between.)