When I was 22, I worked in a different town for a little loan company , processing loans. The man who owned this company (we'll call him "Jeff," mostly because that was his name) taught me many valuable things, many about people, others about myself. He taught me that even more important than processing people's loans, my real business was connecting to people. Among other things, he taught me how to focus under pressure and how to organize around priority. He taught me principles which I've used every day since then. He showed me parts of myself waiting to come out.
Everybody has their Kryptonite. Despite Jeff's shining attributes, he wasn't a very good business person. And I grew very concerned the day that my paycheck bounced. When I approached him with this dilemma, he asserted that even though the company was in a little slump, everything would soon be ironed out.
Things never got ironed out.
When I finally left the company, he owed me about $2,000 in wages--a lot of money for a starving student, right before Christmas, who needed to pay tuition for next semester's classes. Come to think of it, that's a lot of money, period.
I became bitter. I wasn't going to easily let this go. I called the Utah Labor Commission and filed a complaint. They began to subpoena Jeff to arrive in court. The process was unfruitful and painfully slow. I soon realized that I could easily gain my $2,000 back if only I were paid five cents every time I heard the Labor Commission say the phrase, "your file is under review and we'll notify you once we know anything different." This empty search continued for over two . . . (I pause for effect) YEARS. Each new attempt to resurrect my file brought more pain and frustration.
Then I had a dream. I dreamed that I met Jeff. I saw him not as the evil person I'd made him out to be but as just a simple dude with a five-O'clock shadow (that's the way he was in my dream) who fell on rough times. In my dream, I forgave him of the whole thing. Completely. In my dream, he didn't seem very thankful or changed, nor did he seem really to even care, but that didn't matter because I had changed. Instead of angry and dark, I was light and free. So, I woke up that next morning let it go. I let it all go. I felt better Immediately. Incredibly, I forgot very quickly about Jeff and the whole sordid mess.
It took me several years to understand that even though Jeff wasn't a good business person and I had suffered because of it, he still taught me some very valuable things. I began to think that my lost money was a tuition paid for some very valuable lessons. And unbeknownst to me, my lessons weren't over yet.
I hadn't thought of Jeff and that incident for almost a decade when one day something on the radio jolted my memory of Jeff. And so many years later, I didn't remember so much his faults but rather all the positive things he taught me about people, about focus, about priorities. Not only did I harbor no ill will, but remembering Jeff, I felt like I'd even grown from the experience. Proud, I said to myself out loud in my car, "If I ever meet Jeff again, I promise that I will vocally forgive him and thank him for what he has taught me."
Something else I've learned: when you call Destiny out for a bare-knuckle brawl, know that she'll come. She'll test you just like you asked her to. She'll give you what you wanted but expect a little more blood--your blood.
About an hour later I was sitting in the Beehive Tea Room taking a break between yoga classes, nursing a cup of Raspberry Mint tea when over my shoulder I heard a disturbingly familiar voice. I didn't have to turn my head to know who it was. It was Jeff. 10 years later, a different town, in an entirely different context and the first thought was, "Dammit! I already promised Destiny that I'd forgive him. "
I sat there in a cold sweat. Now that it came to it, I didn't know that I go through with it. I hadn't seen him in several years. It felt like I'd just seen an old girlfriend who didn't leave on very good terms. I'd had even subpoenaed Jeff in court. There surely wasn't a good vibe between us. He started to get up to leave and I realized that iIf I was going to act, it had to be now.
I took a deep breath, stood up, and turned to face Jeff. As I stood there, I reintroduced myself. It took him a minute to remember me but when he did, he sort of stepped back as if I were about to throw punches. As I explained who I was, I reminded him of how he had hurt me and with a genuine smile, told him, "but you know what? I forgive you." I also explained all the things that I learned from him and how valuable that information was in everything that I do. He stood there for a silent second, stunned. He didn't know what to say. He made no apologies. He didn't try to explain. He simply told me that I made his day. I made mine, too. At the end of the day he gave me his business card, I don't know why. Maybe it was a token of remembrance.
And no, he didn't write me out a check for $2,000. He didn't need to; I had already received my money's-worth.
In addition to all the things Jeff taught me while in his office, Jeff also taught me volumes about forgiveness, and how that incredible act can make a person whole. I also learned that intentions are powerful. Our yoga practice is one way to act upon the privilege of dancing with Destiny. I've come to learn that in yoga we practice experiencing ourselves as whole. With this regular feeling, we have less and less a tolerance for any less, even grudges and hurt until one day we choose to give them up.
With clarity and self-awareness, we can see through the muddy waters toward the lotus.