Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different.

I’ve heard this quote about forgiveness many times. It’s one of Oprah’s favorites and apparently originated with the Buddhist teacher and writer Jack Kornfeld. I’ve always thought it was catchy and probably wise, but it didn’t move me or have much effect on me.

Until last week, that is, when I read it again in Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, and all of a sudden, it made sense to me. I realized that holding on to hurt is a kind of wish. It’s a (futile) desire that what has happened didn’t happen. This tiny epiphany moved me, just a little, toward letting go of some grudges and hurts. At which I’m not generally skilled.

The thing is, I don’t think just hearing that line or telling it to someone “works.” I think you have to be ready to take it in, and that takes however long it takes.

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