Frustration and forgiveness
I spent the last two days intensely focused on writing a particular blog post. (Maybe I’ll link to it when I finish it.)
I spent the previous week or two trying to write it, but not so intent, not so focused.
I spent the two months before that intending to write that blog post but working much on it. So I just kept musing and hoping it would appear.
I was writing in circles. I had started writing, was writing, rewriting, and then re-rewriting.
I was generating ideas, producing words, deleting words, rearranging thoughts, and making no forward progress.
I seemed no closer at the end of two days than I had been at the beginning.
I went to bed, frustrated. I complained to Bobbi. I resolved to start fresh the following day. I decided I would debug my writing process.
This morning I got up at 5:30. Took my usual cold shower. Did my meditation. Made coffee. And started.
I wrote some notes. Diagrammed some ideas. Captured some notions. I’d dealt with this before, I remembered.
So I did what I’ve been doing more and more lately. I read what I have written.
I’m glad I read them.
I’m glad I wrote them so I could read them.
Knowledge lost, knowledge regained.
I found more than 30 blog posts about “writing.” That’s about one out of every ten posts I’ve written. Not the first time that I’d tried to debug my writing process.
I looked for blog posts with the word “debug” or “debugging” in them. I found a few of them.
I landed on this one from December 6, 2016, called “Debugging and reconditioning myself.” When you finish a paragraph, it advises me. Celebrate! I hadn’t been doing that.
And I had forgotten about the “Six phase meditation” I’d recorded in that post. So that was a handy bit of knowledge, I told myself then.
I wrote a post about six-phase meditation and reconditioning the next day.
Then I found this one on the 23rd: “More debugging).” It’s about the fact that I’d forgotten this vital insight in just 16 days!
And now I’ve discovered that I’d forgotten again for another two years.
The original post
This is the point of the original post, which I haven’t written yet.
Our programming is riddled with bugs, and if we don’t take care, even while we’re improving in one area, we’re deteriorating in others.
We humans are programmed to gain new programs: by imitation, variation, and selection. But unfortunately, most variations lead to deterioration. Only conscious self-monitoring (or the environment rewarding or punishing us) can keep us from deterioration.
Once upon a time, I’d imitated what I’d been shown in those talks.
Then I’d varied and selected toward deterioration.
So I went back to imitation. I just finished a couple of paragraphs. Yay for completing each!
I listened to the six-step meditation talk again and remembered one of his six phases: “Forgiveness!” I’d forgotten how important that was.
Suddenly it was even more critical.
My life was inflected when I wrote Thank you Past Me. Thank you, random stranger. I had changed my attitude toward my past and future selves. Instead of resenting Past Me for what it hadn’t done and dismissing Future Me (“Fuck you, Future Me, what have you ever done for me?”), I was grateful to Past Me for my life and wanted to pay forward some of what I’d been given to Future Me.
I’d practiced being grateful to Past Me. But I had not applied the lesson of forgiveness. I’d written about forgiveness in The paradoxes of gratitude and forgiveness and A meditation on assholery. But I hadn’t applied it to Past Me.
I’d been grateful to Past Me, but gratitude is not the same as forgiveness.
When I thought about forgiveness, it brought me to tears.
Past Me had worked hard. The writing was often a struggle, but Past Me had done it.
Past Me had left a record of what he’d learned in my blog. Past Me had captured bits of wisdom there.
Maybe other people will read that blog, and they will get some benefit. But for today, I’m the beneficiary of a series of undeserved gifts from my past self.
Thirty posts recounting the pain of writing and not writing tell the story of Past Me’s struggle.
Today it paid off.
I recovered some valuable knowledge.
And I realize that gratitude is not enough. Past Me fucked up plenty and yet lives on (I’ll post on that, I promise), suffering and unforgiven.
It’s time for forgiveness.
Now, if I can only remember not to forget!
Other posts in this series: