Saturday, September 7, 2019


Addressing the remaining stragglers (per the intro here, the Slog's perceptual framing jag has thrilled most readers into a walking ovation) - more specifically, the three of you actually pondering the framing issue - here's an enlightening question to ask yourself:

How hard is it to forgive?

If your answer is "not so hard!", great! But play with the slider. Consider worse behavior and more toxic people. Dig deeper into your dark memory. Is there a point where you must acknowledge that, gulp, yeah, sure, that person might be a little harder to forgive?

Thousands of words can be encapsulated into one counterintuitive - yet undeniable - observation. And let me insist in advance that I'm right. You'll know I'm right, deep down. So the exasperated "WTF" you're about to experience is the sensation of your assumptions scraping against the truth. Ok, here goes. Brace positions, everyone!

Forgiving the most egregious people is just as easy as flipping to the other view here:

It's that easy. It's always been that easy.
There are reasons people become who they are and do what they do. Genetic reasons. Psychological damage reasons. Inability to handle fear or anger or other impulses. More than anything: frozen perspective. It doesn’t have to do with you. Nothing anyone does really has much to do with you. People are strapped tightly into their private cinematic experience, and you’re a mere blip on their screen. They don’t talk to you so much as to the “you” in their heads: an avatar; a caricature; a two-dimensional cartoon with your name attached, like a voodoo doll. Unlike them, you’re not locked mercilessly into a movie. You’re free to reframe. You have psychic room to less than the blink of an eye. You can forgive the best, the worst, the whole damn lot, just like that! Forgive the thoughtless slights and the brutal clobbers. They know not what they do. You can do it right this instant, preferably with feeling. It'd be infinitely more useful than reading further!

I don't like citations in general (if your point isn't persuasive on its own, corroboration from some authority won't convince me much), and I'm even less into biblical citations (as I once explained, talk of "god" strikes me as the worst sort of name dropping). But I'll just throw in one more: Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you. It's not about dry saintly self-denial; quite the contrary, it's about asserting control over your world via a framing choice; a shift of perspective - a perceptual flip - out of ugly bondage and into beauteous freedom; out of Hell and into Heaven (this is how to “be the change” you’d like to see on the world. Someone must go first!). It’s the most gleefully libertine pivot one can make; more tequila and Corvettes than hair shirts and nun habits. More Bugs Bunny than Joan of Arc. You can reframe this most puzzling of biblical injunctions as being entirely about framing!

It's probably best to think about the above for a while (perhaps a long while) before reading on. Maybe actually try it. Playfully, like a child teaching herself to wiggle her ears.

Forgiveness and humor are two of the easiest manners of reframing. Both feel great and leave you unburdened (what gets us down in this life can always be traced back to a frozen perspective - inner choice, not outer outcome). Yet some people are too stuck to participate in humor (or at least they draw a line beyond which things are definitely not funny), while forgiveness is downright rare. Many of us are too stuck to forgive much of anything, ever.

Yet both can occur in a fraction of a nano-second (less, actually; unlike cognitive thought, reframing happens instantly, which seems to indicate it happens beyond the physical universe...but that's a whole other issue). The mental effort required is precisely zero. We may have convinced ourselves that it's hard, but, again, the only resistance is our own needlessly frozen perspective.

I once forgave the world utterly in a chain reaction that became all-encompassing...and have never been the same. This reframing is as effortlessly and instantaneously available as any other flip of perspective. Easy peasy! We have infinite options. We just forget.

If you prefer not to forgive - if you don't want to feel great and recognize that you have a great life in a great world - that's perfectly okay. We're not all blue pill people; most of us choose to go along with the foggy dream logic. And that choice makes sense, given that we're all here to immerse in a movie; to pretend to have highly dramatic experiences within overarching stories. It's understandable to not want the show interrupted. A kid banging away on his Game Boy™ would rather not be tapped on the shoulder and reminded "it's just a game!" But just remember: you do have a choice. And it is very, very not "hard".

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