Okay. Topic... I had a topic and a point here. Oh yeah, that's right....
So I was spending some time online tonight (big surprise there, right?), hanging out with a new group of friends on the IRC. I made an inquiry that started a short-lived but rather lively conversation. A small part of the conversation was about how certain groups that had frequented that channel had split off and formed their own groups. There was a general sense of amusement, but there was also a sense of bitterness. I'm not sure if it qualified as a grudge on any one person's behalf, but it sure seemed like there was an air of resentment by this one group of individuals towards another group, something along the lines of "How dare they think differently than we?" This sort of got the cogs turning in my head and I started mulling more on the topic.
Grudges are something that I think everyone is familiar with by their teens at the very latest. They've been on both the giving and receiving end, for reasons both reasonable and foolish. Some folks learn to let go of them after time, and others hold onto them more tightly than a drowning man to a life preserver. I asked myself, Why ARE grudges so important to people? And right then I realized what I should really be asking myself is not 'why are grudges important to others, but why are they important to me?'
I carry grudges. I won't deny it in the least. I carry several at any given time, most of them short-lived and usually very petty. But there is one grudge that I've been carrying for a long time, and a second one that is very similar that has been around now for a little under a year. What I found was I carry this particular grudge because it is a way for me to protect myself. Maybe it isn't the right way to go about doing so, but it is the mechanism I have developed and put into place to accomplish it. The two grudges I carry are against two separate individuals. Both were very important to me, and figured monumentally in my life. They helped shape it, and their actions helped guide me to where I am today, for better or worse. These individuals taught me some very valuable lessons, sometimes through the love we shared and sometimes through pain. But the reasons I carry a grudge towards them is because of how they manipulated me and ultimately betrayed me. In each case, I will admit, I was naive about certain things but had no idea how badly that would cause me to be hurt. Because, ultimately, these people both betrayed me. I trusted them implicitly and they betrayed me in a manner so spectacular I will never be able to forget it for as long as I live. It is towards these two individuals that I carry a permanent grudge. I will not talk to them, I will not be in the same room with them, and I will never trust them again. That last part is what is the most important part of the grudge -- if I never trust them again, they can't possibly inflict the same pain upon me that they did before.
For me to carry that grudge it wasn't just once or twice they hurt me. No, this was several times, each time in a manner so severe it alone should have been reason to turn tail and run from them. So that's what a grudge is for me. When it's a real grudge, when it's something I carry for days, months, years beyond the point of formation, it's a way for me to protect myself from additional unpleasantness. Maybe they're sorry for what they did, genuinely apologetic. But I won't entertain that possibility, even if it exists. When you're on my list you're there, period. End of story.
It was because of that seemingly-definitive "period" that I started thinking about the future. Would something make me rescind my grudge? What would that be? I couldn't imagine anything at that time that would make me even possibly begin to trust these individuals again. I still can't. This isn't to say that such a thing doesn't exist. I told somebody, not long ago, "You never know what the future will bring. You cannot predict it. All you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is." I need to take my own advice on this. Something could happen in the future that would make me discard my grudge and embrace that person again. I might be finding my future spouse or just a new, close friend. I can't say with any form of certainty that something like that will or will not happen. I can't say why it would or wouldn't, either. That's what makes the future the mystery it is to us. It's fascinating, because it is a boundless place, almost magical with its near-limitless possibilities. Hundreds of novels have been written about the future -- and countless more will continue to appear, because it's something that can never be exhausted. Every day we move forward, we have a new future opening up to us, a whole new vista that unfurls like a sail into a wind, waiting for us to fill it -- and in doing so go for an adventure to see where it will take us.
My last thought is a brief one: it is amazing the power simple words have over us. "Please" is a wonderful phrase in a world where so much is demanded of us, or simply taken from us. Likewise, "thank you" is another powerful phrase... it can be for a job well done, for something simple like passing a salt shaker, or for recognizing that somebody has done their best for you, even if they didn't succeed in accomplishing their goals. It's the recognition of the effort that is put into something, either by a polite request or a heart-felt thanks that can really make somebody's day. I'm trying to thank people at my job who help me. Some people have noticed it and scoffed, "Well, that's what they're paid to do." Maybe so, but I don't think that makes their efforts mean any less, and I certainly hope they don't think it makes my expression of gratitude any less meaningful.