The Forgiveness Project

I thought forgiveness was exclusive to religion like an ocean to a buoy. I stayed the heck away from it. What happened to me was unforgivable. I could not forgive.   I turned my ship to the open sea . I would forget what happened. I would be a success in life in  spite of what happened.   Onwards. I sailed into storms. I navigated storms. I saw myself as  Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner  “with sloping masts and dipping brow/as who pursued with yell and blow” . (photo by Hamish Brown Red magazine 2017)

I was embattled and strong. The captain of my destiny.   I stood at the helm.  The crew worked furiously behind me because I was working furiously in front of them.   I shouted instructions through stinging rain. Years passed.  The crew tired. Somewhre in me I became envious of the ships back  in the bay. I spied on the  second in command. He was   selfish, duplicitous, a  scavenger whose sole aim was to steal my food, undermine my confidence and take my ship.

I plotted my journey. I couldn’t trust the crew any more.  Any of them. They had the eyes of mutiny.  This is how it was. This is how life was. Trust noone.   And it’s how it was for years. I kept it secret. I gathered resentments. There were as many as the waves.    I became angry with the sea.  The sea. The sea. I knew this was illogical so I  fell into silence. I mumbled instructions and avoided eye contact.

For reasons beyond me as the sun rose on a storm I fell onto all fours and crawled the deck like a mad dog.  I barked and snapped at the crew and then as night fell and the moon invaded I curled into the bow   like an ever  tightening knot and wept.

The crew stood around me. The storm raged around us. The sails were in tatters. The ship was a skeleton. “What did I do wrong” I shouted. What did I do. A sailor shouted at me .     but I couldn’t hear. Another shouted and I couldn’t hear him either. I couldn’t hear anyone. Only my snarls at the inequity of my situation and the hatefulness around me.  By now they were all screaming at me louder and louder as the ship tilted.   I couldn’t hear any of them.

One by one I looked at the phlegm flicked opening lips of the crew. Their weathered skin moved like sand dunes in the wind.  For ten whole seconds all sound stopped.   And all I heard were  the whispered words of  a woman coming from the  screaming face of a heavy set round shouldered sailor man.     This is what she said   The buoys are not warnings of danger. They are signals for  direction. Follow them when you can.  Let the current take you.

Ask me what happened and I will tell you.

36 thoughts on “The Forgiveness Project

  1. I wish I had your eloquence to express such deep seated feelings. I understand you on a very instinctual, non verbal level and feel such empathy when I read your words. Thank you.

  2. Loving how u have captured the essence of your journey ,(thru the drawings and tides of the sea ! And the danger,fear and pain she may bring from within and about)
    Whilst not negating the turbulent waters : You are a true inspiration Mr :To all who connect to your voyage and those who grow richer from the depth creativity and brutal honesty of the words …..

  3. The sea can be a wild ,dangerous thing !! That read was so interesting and very intense .
    You really are an amazing human being and a Hugh inspiration for all the sad/ terrible events during your young life and just look at you now !! You are loved and respected by so many good people and deserve everything good in life ,embrace it Lemn and enjoy every minute .
    I feel sorry for your Mum and siblings they are missing out so much not having you in there life ,however there is a reason for everything let it be good or bad !!!
    Anyway I’m one of the many many people around the world that love/respect you . Live life ,laugh plenty

  4. Thank you! I love the way your words shape feelings!
    Pain is essential for the survival of the body, but nothing compels us to suffer. Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting and not forgiving. It is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.
    i love this: “The buoys are not warnings of danger. They are signals for direction. Follow them when you can. Let the current take you”
    “Ask me what happened when I forgave and I will tell you:”
    Hopefully you stop being a prisoner of your mind. Freedom means letting go.
    Am I right/wrong?……. jajjaja waiting for the coming blog!

    • If I were a prisoner of my mind I wouldn’t be able to paint pathways. The imagination is a clear window on reality.

      • Who paint the pathways, if not the MIND? Are you beyond the mind?
        The fact is we all are prisoners of the mind! Accepting this is the beginning of general longing for liberation; to find the proper means and use them is the next step.
        On the other hand, i see the world in the window, not through the window as i cannot see my face, but only its reflection in the mirror. Ultimately to see the real, one needs a stainless window/mirror; the real is not imaginary; it is not a product of the MIND.

  5. How do you forgive yourself ,I wonder . I am so hard on myself ! I expect perfection and always fall short,naturally ! I laugh at myself, which sees,me through, but only for a while …

  6. Eloquent as always! The power to transform incredibly painful experience into such beautiful art! Not to mention how it compels us to step out of our self pity. Fabulous! Look foward to hearing what happened when you forgave. I suspect it was liberating?

  7. Wow. Ive reached a point where I understand now that Forgiveness of ourselves is the most important thing in life, yesterday is gone & its only now that matters. I love your amazing story. Thank you.

  8. Lemn, thank you for this beautiful piece. When someone say, ” move on , forgive and forget”, it is easily said than done. Only those who walk through the trail of darkness understand the amount of energy it consumes out of your inner soul to deal with it. It is not a one day project. It is a life time process.
    Lemn, what is admirable about you is how it transformed you into this brilliant, superhuman creature. The way I see it , all those dark days didn’t happen to you, it happened for you.
    Stay healthy. We love you. Can’t wait to read the follow up blog.

  9. as a respected literary figure could you ask bbc if could have someone as yourself as next dr who ? in all seriousness leroy osei bonsu from cbbc s alladin?? thjankyou lem, forgiveness project , when we forgive we can dance. rinalda x

  10. Wow, l cried at those words.
    Time to come through and evolve more deeply

    Many blessings and love dear Lemn

    Thank you for your beautiful honesty, your words, your truth

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