What weight we carry, we tired humans, wingless and ground-stuck. Two arms wrapped around a bulk unimaginable in our youth, bundle of all we’ve accumulated from then to now. We wobbly scooter drivers, loaded like illustration in children’s book with all those we love, all we’ve lost, every person that touched these hearts, every person that walked away, though we wished they would have stayed. All this is bound by rope and thread, twine and bungee cord, and all of a different color. Some rope is sorrow stained, holds the hue of tears cried and dried, some twine is that of joy, brightly colored and oddly weaker than the rest. Some is that of anger, and so often this rope is the strongest of all that binds it, the cord that refuses to fray or come untied, that holds all that elephantine mass together and straps it to us, hunching these backs and stooping our posture. “Quasimodo!” we call out to the shadows we see on the walls we walk by, though we know not they are ours, though we know not we slump.
What then should we set it down, what then should we turn our hearts to knives and saw until the ropes are cut? Piles we would leave behind us, scattered debris on the roads we travel down, here the guilt we glued to the excuses we made, here the sadness for the moments lost with those we loved once, and might still.
Forgiveness is the thing, though I knew this all along.
Somewhere inside since the start of us, an instinct natural as survival, the same that flips us to our backs and kicks our legs to keep us floating though we know not how to swim. Infants tossed in open water, we’re born knowing how to ride the waves. Somewhere along the way, we forget, we hold anger like boots of concrete and our arms tire of trying to tread water. Somewhere along the way we sink lower and lower and forget what light is, forget the way it can shine though the water is deep. We don’t know we can drown miles from the sea, that we carry in us the water that can do the drowning, if only we hold it too tightly, if only we refuse to let it leak.
Stuck in that gargantuan glob of all we carry, tied by the ropes of our frustration we know we have, are so many that we wait for apologies from, wish things were different with, things we regret we did not say, or did not get to do once time soured the connection we shared. They are there, always, reaching out from between the cracks, little bits of shine finding fingertips grasping for open air. We cannot wait, we cannot expect them to do the sawing of the threads that hold it together, for they’ve not the knives, they’ve not the space to wriggle free.
Forgiveness is the box cutter in the back pocket, the sharpened razor, thin enough to slice through the thickest bonds. It’s ours, and ours alone, and no one but us decides when to get to slicing, which threads need go first. Hesitant are the hands that look for an earning from those trapped inside the rubble, hesitant when we question the deserving from those that were stuffed deeper for how they treated us. Take that knife and cut the ropes, grab them with your shaking palms and tie them instead to balloons, a million for all the minutes you swore you could not rise.
Forgiveness is a helium, and there is enough to lift us higher.
I cannot speak of what should come for you, I cannot push the letting go of all that hurt you if you’re not ready to see it, if your hands are still hesitant and you still think some beautiful apology will come. I can only speak of what I know, and I know that life is wasted in the waiting for others to understand the hurt they’ve caused us, I know that forgiving does not ever mean forgetting, and we can still remember, without carrying the same weight. We are shaped by what we endure, I know this to be true, molded like clay from all we’ve accumulated along this road, and I know the weight is monumental. Perhaps it’s balloons we need, helium to lift all we cannot set down, as we cannot drop it all, perhaps it’s flying we have earned in these sorrowed hearts.
What weight we do carry, and how long we have carried it. There will always be those that are indelicate with our souls, those that hurt and never bother to see how deep their cuts sank, what blood comes from the wounds they cause. This will not change, and we cannot spend our lives guarded from all injury; shields block joy as efficiently as ache, no matter how safe we feel in the shade of them. What we can do, perhaps the only thing, is forgive.
No longer will I strap to the back of me the misdeeds of those I loved and then lost, no longer will I wait for kind words to seek me out. I will give them first, I will let go and expect nothing in return. I will forgive without forgetting, but let not what I remember stain the possibility of a future brighter than this.
Hope is never free, I know this, but I’ll pay the cost.
We become lighter,
forgiveness is helium
to a sorrowed heart.