I hate to admit this but the monster got the best of me today. Ask my husband, currently very busy in the office avoiding another run in about something utterly stupid like whether to put the coffee grinds in compost or down the disposal (adjudicated at 8:12am this morning); he will concur. Call it cabin fever (please) but pandemic or not, we all have uglier versions of ourselves and sometimes they bust out.
For those of you who just came to after an explosion, looking down as your ripped jeans and wondering how you lost control again, I am right here with you.
“Remember the Incredible Hulk?” my friend Wanda asked on the podcast.
We were trading gobsmacking stories of forgiveness in the spirit of Thanksgiving, not to mention this nasty moment in American history where everybody’s ripping mad at everybody else for under or over reacting to “the virus that will not stop being named.”
Wanda said we all have a hulk within.
I nodded and circle the words BEWARE THE HULK on my notepad.
One of the other notes I jotted down is that forgiving ourselves for occasionally cracking open into a flash of madness should make us more forgiving of others. If you can face dips in your own character — maybe you’re moody, stingy, impatient (for example, she said) — and decide these crap behaviors, in moderation, are actually forgivable, you’ll probably conjure the same forgiveness for others and without too much heavy lifting.
Other things I wrote down during the podcast:
Humility is forgiveness’s twin emotion. If you’re a person who says things like I would never and I have always, you are less likely to forgive.
Time and curiosity help. Time to sit with the wrong, to study it, to suffer it fully, to get sick of it. And curiosity. How … why… what don’t you know?
Proximity factors in here too. As Wanda said, if you’re curious and you’re proximate, watch out because you’re about to be transformed.
People with a growth mindset have a better chance to live outside of anger on permanent repeat.
Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. You can forgive someone and walk away forever at the very same time.
Righteousness is a buzz. It can rally a movement. But solutions require a much different emotional state, something in the neighborhood of calm determination.
America has a gigantic forgiveness project in front of us. You can call it reparations. You can call it reconciliation. You can cook up another term altogether. But the work is the work and it is ours alone to do.
Kelly Corrigan is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, a host of shows on PBS, KQED and WHYY, and a podcaster looking for a good laugh and the best thinking on the hardest questions.