First of all, happy new year! Whatever that means to you, run with it.
As this blog enters 2014, it’s go time. This is the year of Ironman. Tonight, John and I record our 12th episode of the Ironman Year One Podcast. And, last night, I finally launched the blog I should have been writing for years. I call it the Sincere Rural Hipster Preacher. A bit of a mouthful for a name, I realize, but Sarcastic Lutheran was taken. You can find it right here at wordpress.
So, yeah, let’s talk about new beginnings. I’ve been through so many of them, I am starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. But you know, that’s actually too broad a reference. There’s an even better example in short film that I encourage you all to see.
I saw this when it was nominated for an Oscar in short film, live action. I try to go see them with my friend Dennis, who also always catches the animated shorts. Anyway, I used to joke it is a parable about George Lucas, who just can’t leave Star Wars alone. He keeps re-doing the original movies, and it is not making them better. Just let it be what it is, and make something new!
One time in my life, I went back and rewrote a paper that had been turned in, graded, and should have been left alone. But I liked it enough to want to do it again. I understand the compulsion. This film is about a guy who has the gift of a time machine. And he uses it to fix minutiae. It is brilliant. (I bought it on iTunes, not sure where else to see it entirely.)
I don’t have a time machine, but I do have breath within me, and it means that the future is always open. The past cannot be rewritten, but trajectories of the past can be undone and altered to make the future better.
The problem is, I spend a lot of time living in the past, in regret, over-analysis and self-hatred and guilt. This is no way to move forward.
One of the themes I come across again and again in the writings of people who deal with food addiction is clear:
It’s one of those things that may seem obvious on the surface, but in practice, well, it’s complicated. How do you get over the past if your personality is one of constant deconstruction and analysis? This is what Maron calls “thinky pain.” – I don’t care if I’ve written about that before, it may be my most stolen concept for 2014. (I may have mentioned Time Freak before too. How meta.)
So what does self-forgiveness look like? Like any process involving real people, it will vary. Even when just dealing with my own mind, it’s not like I am a static, unchanging creature, bound by some locked in fate-driven identity. So my own self-forgiveness will ebb, flow, evolve and change. I don’t know what it will look like in a year, or ten.
But today, I can say it looks like this: it looks like the Hyner Challenge. I was determined to get through that course. It was going to take me a long time. I would have liked to finish in under 8 hours. It was over 10 and a half. At a point along the way, (several, actually) I realized that the time was going to be much much longer than “hoped.” It would have made no sense to abandon the pursuit. (Also, I would have needed a helicopter in some place.) But pressing on was its own reward.
I’ve made the same mistakes over and over. I’ve beat myself up about them the same way over and over. Maybe, just maybe, what self-forgiveness looks like today is getting over this idea that the “process” SHOULD have taken me X number of weeks, months, or years. By that standard, I will always fail. But instead of just counting good days vs bad days and whether or not I’ve arrived at a magical moment where it all just comes together and HOOORAY I am a NEW MAN! – self-forgiveness means looking around and seeing that I am not there yet, I’ve fallen back down the hill, but I am still moving.
I wish I could “fix” all of the places in 2013 where I know I blew the chances to turn in a better direction. But I can’t. Even if I had the time machine, I would end up obsessing over details and never come back to the present.
Well, here we are – a new present. It’s all we have. /