An old friend, Mahray, dropped in to visit. He told me a story of sorts, then had a drink and left again. Bit off a weird one, to be honest.
Scars. We all bear them. Each carries a story, whether of emotional or physical injuries. Some scars fade over time, others are with us for life. Some scars flare up now and again, others are painful for the rest of our lives. Scars.
I have many scars. Some of them are worthy of stories. Others are not. This is the story of some of my scars, where they came from. Why the still pain me.
Take this one. Faded. Slightly raised. Runs along the back of my thumb, right on top of the joint. It flexes with movement. It is one of many scars on my hands. These come from a life of work. Not being incautious, those are other scars. No, these come from the day to day tasks, minor slips, cuts. Look at anyone's hands, look at your own. You will find they tell the story of a life, in small blemishes, scars, marks. Look carefully at your own. Think back to how you gained each mark. They all tell a part of the greater story.
A word of advice. Look carefully at the hands of those you would deal with. If you can see their story, even if you cannot read it, then deal with them. If you cannot, walk away. For one who's hands do not tell their story are hiding from you.
Another small scar, sharper. A simple accident. A reminder of the risks of careless action. Not that I don't take action now, but there are times when I think first. Sometimes.
Moving further along, down my arm. A set of scars along my wrist. Messy. Harsh. Fading now, but still visible, after decades worth of slow healing. A reminder of the past. A story to tell.
Not the most interesting story, I will admit. A simple childhood game. A challenge, a misjudgement, a door closing. A door closing hard, with glass. I'm sure you can fill in the rest, as an intelligent being. Let us say it was my first truly impressive scar, but is not and will not be my last.
Moving further, again. My shoulder. A letter, faintly outlined in white tissue against the darker skin. A small physical scar masking a much deeper, vicious emotional wound. A wound that to this day bleeds a little more each hour, a constant reminder of a presence now gone. The wound, inflicted by another. The scar entirely my own.
Let us continue on our journey. Across my side, running into my back. A long, ragged mark. The legacy of another mistake, this one proved nearly fatal. A simple mistake, common in nature. Assuming that once an enemy was on the ground they were not worthy of attention. Do not make the same mistake I did. An enemy is your enemy until they are dead. Even then, you should treat them with the respect and caution that they deserve. Even the meanest enemy can prove fatal if not treated with respect, and sometimes more than scars remain. Or less.
Across my leg. Perfectly parallel to the ground. Dark and slightly puckered. You would be forgiven for thinking that this scar was inflicted by a blade, deliberate. You would be wrong. Again, an accident. A careless movement. A lasting legacy, a reminder that care must always be taken even in familiar surroundings.
Every time I consider this scar, I am reminded of those familiar surroundings. Each time it brings fresh memories, fresh recollection, fresh pain. Another scar that refuses to heal. Perhaps I refuse to let it heal, for healing would mean forgetting. I will not forget. So the scar remains.
There are more. Many more. Each scar tells it's own story, forms a part of the tapestry of my skin. To tell all the stories would be to tell the story of my life. Reliving each part, looking back on those decisions again. Would I change them? No. Each scar forms a part of me now, a part of who I am and who I have become. They are my life, and I would not change my life.
I think Mahray had got into my drinks cupboard fairly early. There were some little shards of glass around the place, I've done my best to clean it up but probably best if we keep the lil ones away from the dungeon for a while
RegretsHi. Sorry about the mess, I had a bit of a spill when I was pouring myself a drink. Cleaned it up for the most part, just watch out for those little bits of broken glass. You know the bits I mean, the only way you can find those is bare feet. Tentacles, I guess, in your case. Never mind. Bit of pain never hurt anyone, did it.
Sorry to let myself in without asking, but you were off and about. Went for a walk last night, couple of trips around the place. Nice gardens you've got, very relaxing. Could do with a labyrinth though, in my opinion. Walking around the gardens and the grounds is all very good, but a true labyrinth would make quiet meditation and thought that much easier.
Thought a lot last night. After our little chat, that is. Well, I chatted. You just listened, and thank you for that, I appreciate it. Sometimes I need to talk, every couple of years. Hard to find people to listen, who don't get scared. I mean look at me, not the most upstanding-looking gentleman ever.
Last we spoke, I was showing you my scars. Some of them, anyway. I have more, as everyone does. Plenty on the inside as well. One day I'll breathe my last breath, and I'll be finished on this world. At that time, perhaps a higher being will take a look at my soul. I wonder what they'll see. There are some scars there as well, big ones.
I don't want to talk about that tonight though, you've heard enough for the time being of my life. What I want to talk about is how I deal with it. Knowing what I do of you, you must have some scars of your own. Mistakes, big ones. That's the real definition of power, I've heard it said. Power means when you make a mistake, as you are bound to do, it's a big one. Affects lots of people. The more power you have, the bigger your mistakes.
I've made plenty in my time. Had plenty of chances to regret what I've done. I spent years dwelling on my mistakes. Each scar, bringing memories, could just as easily bring regrets. They don't though. I came to a... epiphany, a while ago now. The past is passed. It seems trite, but consider that statement in some depth. What is in the past has happened, yes. We can't change it. Well, I can't, don't know about you. Given the choice though, I still wouldn't change anything. Even the bad bits.
We are made up of choices. It's the same as power and making mistakes. Power is also about making choices. Those choices, good or bad, define us. The greater the power we possess, the greater the mistakes we can make, but the more and bigger the choices. I am the sum of my choices, all of them. Changing what has happened would change who I am now. Even going back to make 'better' choices, would mean that I would not be me, I would be someone else. That someone else may be a better person, or a wiser person, or a happier person. But they would not be me.
So I choose to make my decisions, knowing that when I look back with the ever-clear hindsight I may feel they should have been different. I choose to accept this, and not regret. Regret is a useless emotion, it only causes pain and distress. Have I made mistakes? Yes, many, and some of them have caused terrible harm. Do I regret them? No. I choose to accept that the past has passed and cannot be changed. I choose to look to the present and the future, and not dwell on the past.
So I do not regret breaking that glass. I am sorry. I do hope that you don't have an injury. I will also not regret being drunk. I may make bad decisions. But they will simply form another part of the tapestry of my life.
He came to me again this night, Mahray. He looks tired. Even more tired than usual. If it wasn't for the 'bots I would suspect he is nearing an end. His soul feels... thin, worn, hard used. I am concerned for him, for I do not know if I can do as he has asked.
Yes, I'm back again. Sorry, thought you'd got rid of me, didn't you. Well, not quite. I've still got a need to talk, if you're willing to listen. Even if you're not willing, I'm going to talk anyway, sorry. Drink some of your whiskey as well. I appreciate your taste, surprises me a little. Shouldn't, I guess. Just goes to show, no matter how well you think you know... someone, something, there are always surprises.
I've been thinking again, walking. Walking and thinking. The walking seems to help a lot. Lets me put my thoughts in order. Problem is, then I'm left alone with my thoughts. It seems to me that spending time with myself, with my own thoughts, just leads to problems. Big problems for me. A lot of my thoughts are not always pleasant.
I did say I have no regrets, and that is true. That doesn't mean my mind doesn't dwell on matters. Mistakes I've made. Thoughts coming to haunt me over and over again. Reliving actions taken, others not taken. We all suffer from this affliction, regardless of choosing not to regret our actions.
Which brings me to you. For some reason, you seem to have... something. A quality rarely seen. I can tell you my problems, as I have been. I can ask you for forgiveness. I don't know if you can grant it or not, but... I cannot forgive myself.
It's strange, truly. You would think that forgiveness would be easy, with a philosophy of no regrets. It doesn't seem to be so. I wonder why? What advice would I offer someone else in my situation? It is a difficult question, not everyone has access to a being of power that might grant forgiveness.
Will you? Will you be the one to forgive me? It is not something I ask lightly. I know I cannot forgive myself. If you cannot forgive me, then I will bear my burden, not gladly, but at least knowing that it is my burden to bear. If you do forgive me, then somehow you have transcended my own pain and brought it into yourself.
So that brings me back to my question. What would I say to someone who did not have access. Who could not ask for forgiveness and expect an answer, whatever that answer may be. Who had to accept the pain and torment of dealing with their mistakes, or forgiving themselves. Why is it that I cannot forgive myself, yet will accept your decision?
I must put aside my own fear, misgivings. My own history, a chequered past littered with mistakes and scars. Speak as though I hold the wisdom, I am the one with the great knowledge.
What I would say is this.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is easy to mistake the two, but to forget is not to forgive, nor is to forgive to forget. Forgiveness instead is accepting that which has happened, and resolving to understand it. To understand that people's actions were not malicious. To understand that mistakes were made. To understand that while these actions, these mistakes may have affected many, they were not intended to do harm. That is the key to forgiveness.
As to why you, I, do not feel we can forgive ourselves. It is complex, but at the heart it is simple. To forgive ourselves is to accept that what happened was not special. We lose the pain, the scar on our soul, that badge of honour that says we did something. We changed the world. It may have been a bad change, but a change it was. To forgive ourselves means to change what happened into mere chance, mere misfortune. If it is no longer special, then how can we justify ourselves, our actions, our scars.
So I turn to you. Somehow, by asking another for forgiveness it becomes easier. For you to forgive, you must first understand. By understanding, you then make my pain special. You fill my need for recognition, however twisted or not that need may have become.
I ask you for forgiveness. You may choose to grant it or not, I will bear my burden either way.
How do you forgive a god? Or if not a god, then a being with god-like power, maybe god-like knowledge. So call him a god then. (Yes, I speak of a him, for that is how I know him. If he is truly male I do not know, I can only speak to what I see.) How do you forgive a god then? Is it the same as forgiving anyone else?
In a sense, yes it is. In another way, it is far from forgiving anyone else, a task that would appear at first glance to be impossible. For to truly forgive, we have to understand. To understand, to comprehend his actions, that is the task that concerns me.
It would be simple to simply abandon the task. Avoid thought of forgiveness, move on and try to forget. But while I have the choice to abandon the challenge, leave him to his own devices, I cannot. Not because I fear for myself. But I fear for others. I fear for this world.
Consider, if you would. A being of vast power, vast knowledge, vast ability. A being that has created and destroyed wonders. The vast power of being able to influence events, lives. Change the course of many.
Now think about the decisions that he would have made. Not all of them would have been the 'right' decision. Many mistakes would have been made, for even the wisest amongst us cannot see all ends. And in this place, this time? Mistakes will have been made. Regrets building. One such as he will require forgiveness, and I do not see that he can forgive himself.
If he cannot forgive himself, then what would happen? Over vast time, the regrets would build. The mistakes would pile on mistakes, making every decision an agonising choice. Would not anyone, in that situation, begin to wonder. Begin to doubt. Begin to choose not to choose, not to decide. Or perhaps, to make the final decision, to end it all. Cease the pain and suffering of all.
I cannot guarantee that decision would be made. But the risk... the risk is too much to bear. Why me? I can see the question forming on your lips, allow me to answer it thusly. Who else if not me? Is there someone better suited to the task? Better qualified? More experienced? Almost certainly. But they are not here, now. It is here and now that concerns me. I know I am not to late, for I still exist, I still think, I still talk. Yet I fear that soon this will not be the case, if he cannot be forgiven. For it is past the time where he could easily forgive himself.
It comes down to understanding. Without understanding there can be no forgiveness. I do not speak of full understanding, for who can ever fully understand another? Yet even a partial understanding will allow for forgiveness. How to gain that understanding is key. It must be apparent that to simply approach him and ask would be futile. After all, even the best amongst us tend to refuse offered help, for any number of reasons. Pride. Suspicion.
How to approach him then. How to build the rapport needed for understanding. How then to begin to learn enough to grant at least part of the forgiveness required. It is no easy task. It will take time, when time is of the very essence. So a subtle approach is best. Build a rapport as quickly as possible. Share thoughts, feelings, but always the truth. Trust in the truth, for this is too an important task to rely on lies. Lies can be useful, but they require a framework and careful planning. In this case there is not the time.
Do you see the magnitude of the task? The careful balance between not enough time and too much time. I feel that I have reached that balance now. I have gained enough of an understanding, to be able to begin the process of forgiveness. Of accepting your mistakes, taking them into myself, understanding, and forgiving.
Will you accept forgiveness?