Forgiveness is Complex

I’m a bit depressed.  I stopped writing last night on p.30 of my script, just as my protagonist, Winston Greene, is about to launch into what I am calling The Siddhartha Monologue.   I had figured it for a good day’s work, and was sure I’d be able to pick it up full steam in the morning.  

Instead, I managed to accomplish nothing whatsoever all day.   I’ve been restless all day, and brooding.  It’s almost ten at night, and I am still hung up on getting something done, although it now seems completely unlikely.  It’s as though I won’t let myself rest until I’ve at least made a decent start on the monologue.   

The thoughts I’ve been entertaining seem to be prohibiting me from working on my script.  Although I thought I had forgiven the professor, I must have been deluding myself.  For me to presume myself to be more capable of forgiveness than I actually am now appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.  It irks me to believe that there is an all-loving, all-understanding God who has forgiven me; and yet I cannot forgive my fellow man.

The unforgiveness I harbor toward this fellow is particularly evident in my thought processes as I mull over the darkness of Scene Three.  In my estimation, it is the scene most likely to have warranted the main thrust of his criticism.  When I read the words “over the top political references that get in the way of the story,” the first thing I thought about was the Ice in Hell sequence in that scene.   But because the professor did not tell me specifically what he meant by “over the top political references,” I didn’t know for sure.  As I tried to express in the 7th paragraph of my post, A Whole Lot of Love, the extent to which I have been plagued by this unknowing increases steadily the more time goes by.  This is why I have compared my Writer’s Block to a progressive illness, in the sense that alcoholism or drug addiction is considered to be progressive (at least in theory.)

If this is the case, then my earlier announcement that the block had been broken would have no more merit than a drug addict’s announcing that he or she had been healed.   My block might have been in remission, but somewhere behind the scenes the insidious disease that brought this block into being still rages with a fury, waiting to strike again.

That disease – is hatred.   Hatred for my fellow man.   Hatred for the Almighty who, despite having forgiven me, had dealt me a hand so impossible, it makes me feel that, had He been more merciful from the start, there might have been nothing to forgive me for.  

So I have scheduled an appointment to discuss my issue with my pastor, who seems to be a very kind and understanding, insightful man.   When I brought up the matter, he said something very succinct, but at the same time very profound:

Forgiveness is complex.

If only I had known, when I first set about to write a new musical about classism in America, how horribly complex it would be.

7 thoughts on “Forgiveness is Complex

  1. This entry has inspired me to write something. I feel as if a lot of your entries are inspirational in that way. I think your pastor is a very wise man, and the professor (this makes me feel like I’m referring to the guy on Gilligan’s Island, here) threw out a criticism that should be taken lightly. If you ask me, that is. When I was in college, I took a bunch of writing and critique classes. The other writers loved to tear my work apart. I took it so personally, at first, because my writings were more to me than just words thrown down on a piece of paper. I bled into those pages so much sweat and tears. By the end of the courses, I was tearing into their works just as harshly. I don’t know if I did it out of a sense of revenge, or if the courses taught me how to critique not only their work, but how to critique my own. I learned the hard way to take a lot of the criticism with a grain of salt and used their insight to make some of the writings even better than before. There were a few I left alone, though. I didn’t care one iota what they said about it. I wrote it in a particular way on purpose and it was going to stay that way. Anyhow, back to the professor, are you mulling over what he said about the piece because it is so personal to you, or are you afraid that’s what everyone will think when they read what he critiqued? Thoughts to ponder.

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    • I’m sure you’re already aware, Kathoppa, that as a writer, I take and leave criticism all the time. In many cases, I take and leave criticism that is a lot more severe than that of the “professor.” I can somewhat identify with your college experience, because I took playwriting courses on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. as well as a course called “Creative Writing of Fiction” that in those days, one could take over and over again for credit. However, I was not only *not* very sensitive to the constant criticism; I actually even thrived on it. I was earnest about my writing, and the process of accumulating and incorporating criticism as I so chose was also something that thrilled me.

      Given that background, it would seem to stand to reason that I would have blown off the professor’s critique a long time ago. So the issue is on another plane, for me.

      What seems to be happening is that I’m indignant over the fact that he “ran away” from me. He encouraged me to “take it or leave it,” as one would encourage me in such a context. But when I told him that I would be take it a lot better if I even *understood* it, he stopped talking to me. Also, since this was not just a random professor whom I barely knew, but one of my closest friends of over forty years’ worth of friendship, the issue became how the dysfunction in the friendship was depressing me so much and angering me so much that I couldn’t work on the script. In other words, I began to associate the script with which I was very passionate, with the loss of a friendship, and all the emotion that goes on in such a loss. That is what really created the Writer’s Block — not the mere fact that he wouldn’t point out where the supposed “over the top political references” were. That would merely be a mild annoyance in the wake of a failed forty-year-friendship and all the emotional pain such a wake entails.

      So, to answer your question (if I understand it correctly), between the two, it would be the former. Anyone who agrees with what he said does not understand my work – or else, has not explored it carefully. I’m sure the professor did one or the other, or somewhere in between the two. So yes, I need to be able to let go. That I am having such *difficulty* letting go is why I have been writing about it, and why I decided to go to counseling over it. It — and other issues related to classism in America today, and how those of us in the impoverished classes are affected by the stigmatic assaults of the well-to-do.

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      • A friendship that has lasted that long and then ends abruptly like that is something that would cause me to lie awake at night, too. You’re probably a lot like me wanting to analyze every word spoken and every step taken until you’ve hashed it out so much that nothing makes sense anymore.

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  2. That’s pretty much exactly what goes on, yes. And then, I want to keep trying to make sense out of it, even after it’s reached the point where nothing makes any more sense.

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