What Didn’t Happen

Flying to San Francisco. Flying at night, on a clear winter night, is magical, the lights far beneath the plane like lights on a far away Christmas tree. There’s life going on down there, people going about their evenings, preparing for bed as the plane makes its way across the country. An ordinary evening in Cleveland, or St. Louis, or wherever we are 36,000 feet up above those houses with their people going about their ordinary lives. Some might be doing the dishes, putting the kids to bed. Some might be arguing; some making love. Maybe there’s some wife down there telling her husband she no longer loves him, has fallen out of love, time for him to pack his possessions and move out. Maybe he can rent a room somewhere she might suggest. Not her problem when she’s the one always already leaving,

In our relationships, when we focus on our problems or how wrong things are, we lose our power to be and act effectively. Problems lie in the lack of inventing a future for our relationships “as a possibility.” When there’s no possibility created, pretty much what’s left is being upset.

The payoff in that is that we get to be right and see others as wrong. In being upset, in withholding our happiness and well-being, we both limit the other person as well as our own ability to be. If we switch that, if we invent ourselves (instead of just reacting), the way the world occurs shifts—we could be in a relationship with Godzilla, or anyone. If we don’t switch that, we don’t get a chance to celebrate all that’s available to ourselves and others.

When something’s missing as a possibility, there’s not a sense of insufficiency or inadequacy—we leave behind the conversation about how things are “not” going to be. What’s missing becomes a possibility “for” something. Making this switch requires disrupting our old conversations and most likely completing things from the past—there’s no wish for things to be different, better, or more. We come to know a space within ourselves where that can happen—it’s a state change, to being the author, as it were.

The conditions and circumstances for our relationships begin to reorder and realign themselves. In creating possibility, we get to know what’s possible in being human.

 Angie Mattingly
Landmark Forum leader

She was always already leaving. For her, leaving was the possibility dragged into the future. Leaving kept her safe, gave her an out, pre-ordained. It was only a matter of time.

She said her life was changed as much as mine. Not so. As she was always already leaving, nothing changed for her. She was leaving when we met, leaving throughout, leaving at the end. She’s still leaving, and word on the street has it trying to provoke a leaving in someone else’s relationship. Love has no currency in leaving. When your life is dominated by leaving, there’s no way but out. Leaving.

That I’m happier away from her leaving is not a validation of her leaving the marriage. It’s the inevitable, if long time coming, consequence, the new freedom to be, to act. Woe to the next man who fails to perceive her trail of leaving, mistaking it only for independence. Self-proclaimed independence is her cover, her mask for always already leaving.

I’m in my own apartment after two months living with my son and his family, a joyful, restorative time after last year’s dislocation. I’m immensely grateful.

Now I’m faced with sorting through too much stuff, too much of everything, to fit into my comfortable but not large one bedroom apartment. The space is entirely adequate: it’s my stuff that isn’t. Anyone who knows me knows this is true. Even with four sizable closets, rare in an apartment this size, there’s much left out that doesn’t fit. Time to divest, not one’s or two’s of this or that, but wholesale eliminations, half of everything should go. (Not the books!) Short-term angst for long term ease of living.

She would be laughing had she a sense of humor about me.

What I strive for:

Forgiveness enlarges the future

By David Cunningham

 

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful actions a human being can take–it doesn’t change the past, it enlarges the future.* Forgiveness is a choice that frees us from the burden of resentment and regret–it doesn’t alter the past, make things right, condone what we did or may have been done to us. It shifts the present and allows us to move forward. Creating a new future is declarative and takes a commitment to being complete with the person or people involved.

Forgiveness is not really about the person who we say has done wrong; it’s about the one who is forgiving. It’s about finding the courage to step out of “the way it should have been.” To complete a past hurt, resentment, anger, fear or failure, it’s worth noticing both how we’re holding what happened now, in the present, as well as recognizing that whatever happened more than likely will have gained over time a certain mass and complexity in our minds. In taking that into account, we’re more able to address the context, hear others, and look at what might be next.

For example, if we’re harboring resentment, it involves taking responsibility for the diminishment of the other person and requires generative language, such as “I’m giving up the grudge I’ve been harboring for years.” 

Upsets and grudges that we carry from the past narrow our options, impact our relationships and limit our experience of living fully.

The lights are still on down there in the country. We’re over the great plains of Nebraska, Fewer lights, more distantly separated, Lonely lights, Lonely night.

Tomorrow is Adam’s end-of-chemo party. Six months. I hear in my mind our phone call of early September when Adam called to tell me he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He has borne the cancer and the treatment with grace and fortitude, curtailing nothing, caring for the ill himself as a fourth year medical school student. He will be a fine doctor, a rare physician of compassion and knowledge.

He received an all-clear from his oncologist yesterday; come back for a check-up in three months. The relief is immense.

My boys are blessings she could not fathom. She called them straight arrows. Power is expressed in language.

Let go and set myself free.

Let returning to San Francisco not be a set-back.

Let circumstance not have us meet.

Let go and set myself free.

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