My computer was acting funny the other day, running at an irrationally insincere pace. I updated all the overdue updates, deleted space eating infrequently used programs, ran a defragmentation program and it was still running like a drunk trying to make it to the bathroom. I was able to get online, Binged for help and found 'Speedy PC Pro' online repair service “for $29.99 – SpecialToday Only!” I get a bit panicky when my cyber link to the world is poorly, and the service was Microsoft Approved and had Verisign trust buttons and other warm fluffies, so I went for it.

Shortly thereafter, after getting nowhere with the software I'd just downloaded, (past knowing that my drive had 388 problems it couldn't fix), I was on the phone with Sanjev. He seemed a patient sort and was obviously trying to be helpful. The room behind him sounded like it held 200 other chatty East Indian repair assistants, but it didn't interfere with my ability to understand him. Post approval, he poked into the innards of my black Dell 3000 and shortly said: “Oh sir, I have some very bad news for you”. “Faaak” I inwardly gasped, remembering past computer repair debacles, and hoping this wasn't going to be another. “You have many problems with your registry, I cannot fix this for you. The best analogy I can use is that if your drive was made of wood it would be filled with termites and is about to collapse. You must take this to a Microsoft trained technician as soon as you can.” He than began recommending Staples Office Supply, where they could solve my problem for about $350 “or perhaps a bit more”.

As I mentioned, the thought of being without my computer makes me feel somewhat panicky. I had an urge to supplicate for the sake of getting back to up-and-running status ASAP, but then remembered a past situation that created a similar feeling.

It was near Christmas and our first trip to London. After arriving at Heathrow we gathered our bags and took the tube to Hammersmith Station. There were throngs of people bustling about like extras in a movie who had been told to BUSTLE! It was a long flight from California and I was spun. We collected our bags and started shuffling towards the taxi stand when a thin, squinty man in a striped turtleneck sweater and a worn dark blue sports jacket came up to us and said: “Where to Gov? Got me car right around the corner, take you any where you need to go”. “What about the taxis? Are you a taxi driver?” I replied, sounding every bit as sharp as an old butter knife. My wife Elle squeezed my arm and pulled our three year old son Chris a bit closer. “No need for alarm Miss”, our would be transport man assured: “Just providing a service, where are you headed?” I told him we were going to the Chiswick Inn on High Street. “Right, take you there for a flat twenty quid. Bettern' you'll do with those black cabbies … never know what those buggers 'ell charge ya. Likely to take you the long way round you know.”

I was about to accept the pro-offered arrangement, largely to avoid the cue and get to the hotel as quickly as possible, but Elle took me firmly by the arm, looked the man directly in the eyes and said: “No thank you sir” and towed Chris and I to the taxi stand. We waited in silence for about ten minutes and then got into a black cab. I told the driver our destination and as we took off I asked El “what was that was about?” “Didn't like him, didn't like him at all. He seemed shifty and polite in a wrong way. My gut told me he wasn't to be trusted and we should just go.” “Oh, OK” I replied feeling like I'd just traveled to Mars in the back of a pickup. We pulled up to the hotel a few moments later. “That'll be three pound ten sir” the driver chortled as we exited the cab. Elle smiled at me and said “I'll get it, my treat.”

I decided to take the old black Dell to the local 'PC Dude' repair shop. They had it done in a day for $119.

                                  Happy Holidays!

With the celebration of the holidays and the beginning of the New Year, forgiveness feels like a good topic. I can’t think of a better time to clear the decks of the old and negative and make way for the new and hopefully positive. The type of forgiveness I’m talking about is the punctuation where we mark the end of an emotional cycle with a person or event that was painful to us. If we genuinely forgive, we’re done with any ill-will associated with that person or event. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re open to further interactions with the person or that we’re happy the event happened, we’re simply over needing to process it and don’t bear any malice against those involved. Are there any skeletons in your closet that need forgiving or processing of some kind?

  Our busy, busy busyness and tendency to repress the unpleasant can make sweeping things under the carpet quite tempting. Even fairly large occurrences of pain can be excused away and ignored, creating a chain not unlike the one Marley used to scare Scrooge on Christmas Eve, except this one we carry on a day to day basis. Unprocessed emotions are weight and forgiveness can’t be attained until they’re acknowledged and dealt with. I had a patient who came to see me because of her chronic alcoholism. She was 63, her skin was a bright cirrhotic yellow and she had been drinking hard for over four decades. During our first session I noticed a twitch when I mentioned her Father. In subsequent sessions I continued to pursue possible troubles in this relationship. She tried to blow it off and pretend everything was fine but finally broke down and cried the type of cry that can only be cried after years of repression. Her Dad had died some 40 years before and she had never discussed the matter to any depth with anyone. She’d blamed herself for his death for all those years, though there was no logical way to conclude she was in any way responsible. After she opened up it didn’t take long for massive improvement to occur. She stopped drinking, her skin returned to a normal color and I hear through the occasional call that she continues to thrive some eight years on.  

  Often it seems the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. In an odd way it’s seductive; if we’re to blame we can pretend that we had the power to prevent what hurt us from happening and pretend that we’re more in control and less vulnerable than we really are.  

  Rather the opposite of that dynamic is trying to jump prematurely to forgiveness without going through the cycle of emotions we need to experience to process whatever loss, betrayal or unfairness that has come to us. True enough, painful emotional experiences are no fun to work through but I’ve never found a short-cut that worked long-term. In our varying ways we need to go through the processing laps of denial – bargaining – anger – depression and acceptance until we’re done and can genuinely move on to forgiveness. 

  Certainly life is at times most unfair, and any of us can find ourselves angry with God or whatever higher power we hold. When my wife Ellie was dying of cancer I was so enraged that such a good person was allowed to suffer so horribly, that passing a church steeple would often ignite an intense stream of curses and obscene gestures. As time passed I realized that it wasn’t God I was angry at; I don’t believe God had a sponsoring role in her disease, I just needed to be mad at something. Years after she died and my grief subsided, who did I have to forgive to punctuate the end of this loss? It may sound a bit loony but I forgave life for being life. Sometimes wonderful things happen to us that aren’t our doing and other times unbelievably horrible circumstances happen to us or our loved ones that are in no discernable way cultivated or deserved. My anger wasn’t going to protect me from future tragedies but it absolutely could taint or disperse the positive aspects of my life. Forgiveness was the door to go through to move on without the past making each step heavier and harder and keeping my eyes looking down rather than looking up to see what was in front of me and beyond. 

  We all experience rough times and I’m don’t think I’ve had it tougher than the next guy. What I am saying is that this may be a good space to look at what you’re carrying around. It might be a good time to let it go and move on to forgiveness. Untended, emotional scaring can weigh us down and lead to a depressing, negative view of life. In one of the therapy groups I ran we had an end of year ceremony that focused on forgiveness. Each person would write down who or what they were ready to forgive on a small piece of paper. We all talked about each one and then, if it seemed like the person was really ready to forgive, the paper was put into a brass metal bowl where it was burned. It’s was a nice way to punctuate the past and move into the New Year with as little unnecessary baggage as possible. 

                                                            Hope Y’all Have a Great 2011!