Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Best Revenge is Living Well: Or is it?

Original Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861) Japanese Woodblock Print
The Igagoe Revenge, 1847

tr.v. re·venged, re·veng·ing, re·veng·es
1. To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult).
2. To seek or take vengeance for (oneself or another person); avenge.
1. The act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs; retaliation.
2. Something done in vengeance; a retaliatory measure.
3. A desire for revenge; spite or vindictiveness.
4. An opportunity to retaliate, as by a return sports match after a defeat.

We often hear the saying stated as; "The best revenge is living well." The quote actually reads; "Living well is the best revenge" by English poet, George Herbert. It is enveloped in a poem entitled "Jacula Prutentum" and it was written in 1651.

I have never considered myself to be a vengeful person. Nor have I thought to be associated with anyone who plays a part in it. But now I'm wondering if that is entirely true.

In my on going search for positivity, mindfulness and grace (which is a difficult journey); I have begun to think about the freedom of compassion and the bounds of revenge.

I admit that forgiveness is not my strong suit. The concept of forgiveness is strongly associated with compassion. Even so the thought of embracing forgiveness leaves me feeling intensely resistant to it. 

Intellectually I understand that forgiveness is meant largely for the forgiver. A means in which to release hurt and anger. My stubborn and illogical mind feels that, to do that, I would be essentially letting the offender off the hook.

Those who have hurt me may or may not make camp in my mind. It depends on how much time has passed since the event or events. There are men in my life who have hurt me and although I may not have feelings for them anymore; I may find myself cringing at the thought of them. I have run into ex-partners and have turned the other way so that I wouldn't have to face them. I have done the same with ex-friends.

I have always felt that if one of these people were to approach me and say hello; I would have no interest in engaging with them or offering a simple "hello", in return. In my mind I'd be thinking, "Do you not remember what you did? How dare you come up to me as if nothing had happened!"

Although I have been hurt (as I imagine we all have) by others, I have never once thought of making them pay, or going out of my way to make them feel sorry in some way. If a person does not feel apologetic on their own, there is no point in attempting to manipulate authenticity. That would be nonsensical. 

I suppose I've never thought myself to be a vengeful person because I've never wanted to physically harm someone, play a mean hearted prank, or make someone feel bad about themselves.

I am now noticing that there are more subtle ways in which to form revenge.

I'll provide some examples:

I didn't attend my high school reunion for two reasons. All the friends I kept from high school are already in my life. Also, there are several individuals I did not care to see. I have known those who have carried grudges against former classmates and attended their reunions so as to show off a good looking body and to brag about their accomplishments. I would call that revenge.

There are a few people in my life who I wouldn't want to run into and once upon a time I had prepared one liners which I'd release if I ever ran into them. Zingers that would be cut throat, yet intelligent and witty. Sometimes I fantasized about what I might say and how the other would react. Not only was I wasting precious energy but I was also plotting a form of revenge. 

This brings me to the question of what living well actually means. Is it a shallow attempt at hurting others? I suppose it depends on how one defines living well. If I were to hold my accomplishments and aesthetics over the heads of others I would say, yes. 

In my mind, living well equates to contentment; physical health; mindfulness; spiritual health; the desire for self growth; a thirst for knowledge; allowing oneself to be silly; independence; the ability to love and be loved; caring less and less about what people think; the ability to push out negativity; continually practicing compassion and having a sense of play.

Have I achieved all this? Nope; not even close. Who knows if I'll accomplish this and to the extent I wish by the time I die. But that's alright with me.

The fact that I'm working towards things like compassion, negates the desire or purpose for revenge. In the end living well is not a means to revenge. It would only be means of revenge if all the while during my process of growth, I was hoping that someone would observe my on going transformation and wish they could be like me. It would be the hope of jealousy. If we desire jealously from others, then we are not content with ourselves. If we desire jealousy from others we are truly seeking revenge.

I am not free of these binds, but it is becoming increasingly clear that I have much work to do. I praise myself for having a limited amount of revenge in mind. I think it's important to do that. This means that my heart is not completely hardened. But I also recognize that I do indeed inhabit a sense of revenge. It's embarrassing to admit, but I suppose it's important to admit this if progression is my ultimate goal.

So: are you vengeful?

No comments:

Post a Comment