It was a forgetful incident that drove me to this reflection. I awoke in the little hours, 1:30 maybe 2:00 from a dream of some sort of confrontation. Heart pounding, mind a blank, I struggle to remember what I had for dinner, because I read somewhere — probably on the Internet — that if you can remember what you had for dinner you aren't getting senile.
I finally think my way back to a Which Wich sandwich, hot roast beef on wheat, pepper jack and provolone, spinach, tomato, spicy mayo, crispy onion strips, barbecue sauce, salt, pepper and garlic. I'm feeling pretty good about myself until I remember that that is what I always order at Which Wich. So no magical feat of memory there — other than remembering that we ordered out from Which Wich.
So I'm lying there awake at maybe 2:15, fixated on memory. Naturally, I cycle back to the dream that woke me and begin to recreate the dialogue — please tell me you do that too.
I'm apparently talking to person A — let's call him Tom, about person B — we'll make her Pricilla. There are still no actual identities that I recognize, only emotional clusters. Apparently Pricilla did me wrong, and, despite Tom's urging, I cannot let go of that anger.
"Well," Tom finally bursts out, "I don't know why we're having this argument. She'll never know the difference."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"She's in deep dementia. Doesn't recognize the people that she loves. She wouldn't know you from Adam." With that, Tom conveniently disappears.
Suddenly, the idea of forgiving Pricilla seems almost trivial. The sympathy for someone, anyone, who loses the memory of everything they once held dear, sweeps away whatever issues had estranged us. Forgive Pricilla? Of course. Nothing could be easier.
But, I then realized, nothing could be more meaningless. I thought back on others who, in my mind, had "wronged" me. The easy examples were mostly professional — colleagues who had failed to support me for this or that. Things that, with the passage of time, had grown trivial as most "on the job" conflicts do. We had forgiven each other. But we had not forgotten the original discord. And that is imperative in true forgiveness. The harder issues were personal. Painful still. The original conflicts remained raw. Forgiveness remains a remote possibility somewhere down the road.
It is vital that we recall that the saying goes "forgive and forget." There is a moral chronological imperative to that aphorism. It is not forget and forgive. There is no honor, no ethical high ground, in forgiving someone whose wrong you have forgotten. Forgiving a demented Pricilla was dust and ashes, it was "winning" a battle of wits when confronted with an unarmed opponent.
It was then that I realized I still had work to do on this particular path to a harmonic life. I've gotten better, but there are still a few Pricillas and Marys, Freds and Tommys out there that I have not managed to forgive, and whom, I strongly suspect, have yet to forgive me. We remain moments of discord in each other's lives. It would be better to forgive and forget. But that is far easier said than done. Still, there is some honor in continuing to try to forgive, or at least in thinking about trying.
So, I roll over, make a few notes here on the iPad and wonder, so what did I have for lunch yesterday?