Forgetting: a holy indifference

Let us forget, with
generosity, those who
cannot love us.

~Pablo Neruda~

I came across this quote the other day and it spun me around. What can this mean? Not forgive, but forget. Not with difficulty, but with generosity. Not that they don’t love us, but that they can’t.I read again the words, those who cannot love us.

There are those who cannot love us. Cannot. They aren’t able to. Think of it, that there are those who don’t love simply because they cannot. It can be quite painful not to be loved by those we care about. When we love someone without feeling that returned affection, it hurts. It can be family. For me, it has also been the church, and on a very personal level. Being shunned, becoming invisible, being “preached to”, condescended to, misunderstood, rejected…it hurts. All of my life, when I am misunderstood, when someone doesn’t like me, or when I feel forgotten or invisible, I spin crazy webs in my head and am trapped by self-recrimination, self-doubt, fear. I rack my brain, trying to find what must be lacking in me, why I just wasn’t good enough.

When I come back to the first two lines again, I read them differently. I consider that when I am thinking of these people, I am having expectations that aren’t being met. I am assuming that what is going on has something to do with me – that because they don’t appear to be open to engagement with me, I therefore must be flawed, unlovable.

But to stop this flow of thoughts, I can instead remember that they CANNOT love me. They can’t do it, they aren’t able. Why they can’t love me isn’t my issue. My issue is to recognize that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with me. So I release them, with generosity! Wholeheartedly releasing them from any debt to me, releasing them from not meeting my expectations, releasing them to follow their own path just as I am following mine. I am able to forget them, because I thought of them only to torment myself about why they didn’t love me. Letting them go in this way frees me from this kind of thinking and in this way, I forget them. I don’t hold them in debt to me, I am free to be unconcerned and also free to have a sort of compassionate disinterest in them. Not wishing them anything but the best, and moving on into life without the emotional ties binding me to them. No longer blaming myself. No longer blaming them.

Now, when those who cannot love me come to mind, there is an instant where I recognize the choice: begin spinning the stories in my head or let them go. Forget them, with generosity. Wholeheartedly. Bless them, send them on their way. Hope good things for them, wave good bye, and continue on my way – unfettered, unconcerned. It is a kind of “holy indifference”.

Life altering process, this. To see it set in print, so succinct, so simply and well put – lovely.