Published On: Thu, Jun 27th, 2013

Forgive Now…Die Later

labyrintForgive Now…Die Later

by Rebecca Kovan, PhD


I anticipated writing from an entirely different angle for this month’s Nutricula article. Actually, I did write a piece, a piece that was factually factual, and somewhat interesting, but as I reviewed its contents before submission, I realized my heart was not present between the letters. So I sit in front of my computer, now propelled in an different direction, wanting to talk about the one thing that hovers over all else: our own inevitable and impending demise.

Death, with its long, spindly fingers, hovering and biding its time, until it becomes time to pluck us from this earth and our lives as we currently know them to be…

Isn’t that why we ultimately care about disease, inflammation, and obesity, the primary topics of this month’s flip? We know beyond a shadow of a doubt, which is also backed up by rigorous scientific study, that these ugly and informative three, place one on the fast track to death. Even though we all have to face it sometime, whether we are prepared or not (if preparation is even possible), the goal is typically to delay that final skydive into realms unknown, for as long as possible.

I would not argue for a second that healthy lifestyle choices are connected to longer life expectancies. No. But what I do want to orient this article in is our fear of the place where our body ceases to hold importance, and our soul or spirit or whatever word makes you feel comfortable, enters—I dare to think we can mostly agree—a different realm.

The other day, my generally non-philosophical dad said, “Death is simply another Life event.” He said it so matter-of-factly, calmly and peacefully, that it knocked my proverbial socks off. I was reminded that our parents also experience the complicated and cold corners of Life’s offerings; as children, age aside, we can be quite egocentric!

It is an uncomfortable subject for pretty much every sentient being; there are two positions when the last dance is in the air. You are either the one dying, or you are the one watching or knowing of someone dying. You are either the main event or in the audience, so to speak. The process may be fast, or it may be slow. One thing for certain is that it will most definitely be.

In either position, we often review relationships, relations, and how we relate(d). These three aspects of relatability are very important, for they hold the keys of peace or the jags of discontent.

Relationships are our connections that hold meaning based on a balance of time and tolerance. Relations are our blood ties, which are not always dictated by genetics. How we relate is the manner in which we regard those who have intersected with our path, or are currently players in our respective domains.

Taken through the filter of slights, misunderstandings, and preconceived notions, might these three life-relatable niches hold some semblance of control over our peace and sanity?

As I type, I am struck by the degree to which we hold back. We hold back because we don’t want to insult, hurt feelings, or stir the pot. We hold back because we are lazy, tired, or indifferent. We hold back because we are afraid of rejection and we hold back because we don’t fully trust ourselves to let go of the reins. What do we lose when we hold back? That can only be answered by each individual, face to face, with the respective base of personal data that exists at the fingertips of memory’s unreliable accounts.

I maintain that we can lose a lot though.

I would like to officially put forth that if people forgave each other, if people sincerely and fervently embodied the spirit of forgiveness, disease would lessen, inflammation would lessen, and obesity would lessen. Again, I am in what seems like a monthly defense of my difficult-to-prove points, but I can feel in my gut that if we put down our swords, first starting with ourselves, and then moving on to a nucleo-familio level, finally branching out into collective realms—I mean really put down our swords, eye to eye, understanding to understanding…,well, I think it would make for a better, cooperative reality.

My husband’s father is dying. He is young by actuarial standards, not even 70 years old. I am witnessing internal conflict and confusion occurring within my husband. He and his father have had a tumultuous relationship. There are many things that have not been said—heavy air and uncomfortable silences.

First-hand, I am seeing the importance of “Don’t wait to [fill in the blank].”

Don’t wait to clear the air. Don’t wait for someone to get it. Don’t wait to make a wrong, right. Don’t wait to apologize. Don’t wait to forgive.

Please do not mistake my urgency for anything other than feeling compelled to make this world a better place. For when our worlds are full of dis-ease, which is a space where unsettledness reigns (at best), we are dense and thick with troubles, mostly ill-conceived and based in self-constructed, barbarous fluff. And when our worlds are full of ease, flow becomes the captain and effortlessness is the deckhand.

Forgiveness is always there, waiting like a patient friend, ready to wipe clean the hurt feelings of the past and the lingering state of discontent. Forgiveness is an emotional palate cleanser, gracing relationships with second chances. Forgiveness absolves all parties, propelling each into a place of love and understanding.

I hope I can walk my talk and forgive those I hold a grudge against. Knowing there is a grudge is the first step, but that step requires a second, and a third, and as many as it takes to get to that authentic and earnest place where forgiveness trumps all perceived affronts.

We are all going to die. We are all likely going to experience the death of loved ones. That said, we can ease this “Life event” by forgiving others, and therefore creating a space of peace. It is my opinion that we don’t do death well in this society.

But that is no excuse to not do better.

As is my way, I will conclude with a poem from Alphabet Living, a book I co-wrote and illustrated.

F is for Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a path that heals—it’s good to let things go.

Forgiveness means you don’t hold on; this lets you greet Life’s flow.

Transform your thought. Forgiveness is the key to rise above.

Forgiveness opens many doors, especially to love.

Now go hug your children—forgive—and make it a great day!



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