It’s been a very depressing day for me. I’m not a person who is prone to depression, though I certainly recognize it. Depression strikes me rarely enough, however, that I pale at being able to navigate it. It always seems like new territory, and highly dismal, unrelenting terrain at that.
I started thinking about going word-of-mouth on the “advertising” venture alluded to earlier, and I received some referrals to people who might be interested but who haven’t gotten back to me yet. Then I began to ponder the idea I had last Saturday that would neatly take me from my most recent impasse to the end of the Winston Greene show, so that I would have a completed rough draft at last. So I thought, well, I’ll try to do it myself – it is my idea after all, my “baby” as it were. But as soon as I hit the pages of that script, I felt this familiar surge of resentment against one particular individual, whose identity it would be completely inappropriate to disclose. Let’s just say he is a dear old friend of mine, somebody who is precious to me but who for some unknown reason has decided that he cannot have any contact with me. Even that decision was communicated to a third party to convey to me, and rendered three years or more after the fact.
That alone baffles me, being as I am actually incapable of making such decisions, nor as a Christian do I believe them to be loving or godly. I can’t think of anyone on earth whom I have ever decided is not worth my time. And I’m fine with that. Many people shun me because of my personality traits anyway. I know what it feels like to be shunned, and so it is basically a Golden Rule issue for me. I don’t like being dissed, and I don’t diss people.
But this guy – I tell you, it would be so easy for him to take an hour out of his day and participate in the healing of my wound regarding him. Yet I cannot control the actions or reactions of any person other than myself. So of course there is nothing I can do or say to change this man’s mind about me. Yet the way that the severance came about was so ugly and so entirely unnecessary, and its resolution so entirely doable if only he would do his part, it calls to question not only his morality – though he claims to be a Christian (which of course says nothing) – but his actual professional integrity.
How could he have ripped my script apart at a moment when he knew I was only looking for support and encouragement, and he also knew that I respected him very highly and would no doubt internalize his comments? How could he then proceed to never answer emails, never answer phone calls, when the solution would be so simple? If there are, for example, “over the top political references” in my script; and if they do, in fact, “get in the way of the story,” why did he refuse to tell me where these references are and how they get in the way of the story? I have scoured this script ad infinitum, and he could have meant practically anything. I don’t see them, personally, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
He commented on a typo on one page, objected to capitalization in stage directions, and happened to note that I had set up one of the scenes very nicely – as though all the scenes had not been set up impeccably. I took graduate playwriting course at U.C.Davis; I rarely got a grade lower than an A+, I am not some hack! Where was this guy coming from? It seemed as though he skimmed the script during a ten minute coffee break, looking for innocuous peccadillos to shove in my face, as though taking pot shots at me. It wasn’t what I expected from a longtime dear friend at all! Nor from a professional in the field! I am absolutely horrified by this inexplicably unacceptable behavior from someone of his obvious highly esteemed stature in the Performing Arts.
He said the show was ‘unproducible’ due to the cast size. I chopped the cast szie in half and sent it to him; he still ignored me. I sent him personal handwritten letters to his home address, sometimes even letters of apology – though God knows what for — and still he would not budge. Yet before this notorious critique of his, we had been in contact probably two to three times a week. After ridiculing me while I sought his encouragement, he curtly turned his head away and removed me from his existence as though I were a piece of human feces being flushed down a toilet.
Was it because of class? Is he only supposed to extend professional respect toward rich people, or famous people, and not toward those who are struggling? He used to always send me a little gift on my birthday into my PayPal, fifty dollars or so. Enough for the poor bloke to get himself a dinner, and maybe a date, or perhaps a glass of red wine. Even that kindness stopped abruptly. Why? Does he only answer to those who “count” in his world? And why do I no longer count?
While assaulting this “over-the-top” character that I had created for dramatic effect in a musical – as though characters in musicals are not by their very nature “over the top” — he quite casually added: “This of course has no reflection on the author of the show” (meaning me, of course). I was not born yesterday! This borders on character assassination! And of course, I was hurt emotionally by that sarcasm. But what hurt the most was that he absolutely refused to address any of these issues that he himself had raised – and there were many others. Instead, he proceeded to avoid me completely, block all my email addresses, delete me from all interfaces, never return phone calls, and basically blot my existence out of his mind as best he could, I would presume, for three years. As though he had nothing to do with the matter, and there were nothing he could do to resolve it.
Because I’m a Christian, I have to forgive him. Because I’m a human being, I have to get over it. Because I have a job to keep and an apartment to maintain, I have to focus away from it. But it just irks me that I should now be left, not only with a failed friendship, but with a total psychological block against finishing this project that is dear to me. You see, every time I open up the pages of that script, I practically burst into tears thinking about how a scathing critique full of mockery and insult, followed by three years of silence, ruined a forty-year friendship. All this fellow would have to do would be to own up – to man up — and my whole block would disappear for good. It would take an hour, at the most, of this man’s time. And yet — he will not give me that single hour!
Is it Christian love that would refuse to bend that far for a human being whom you have hurt? To see the solution so clearly, to hold the very solution in your own hands, and yet refuse to render it? I could easily forgive him if he owned up. I do my best to forgive people their understandable transgressions, even as God has forgiven mine. But when I’m having trouble forgiving someone, why do they make it harder for me to do so? When they could so easily do something about it! Why is this forgiveness ball always in my court??
What is forgiveness anyway? Some say it’s simply “overlooking” the offense. Scripture says “it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11) So I guess if I want any “glory” – if I want to ever actually finish this script — I’m going to have to overlook this offense – huge and overpowering though it may be.
Or maybe — I shouldn’t want any glory.
I wonder if that’s the bottom line . . .