too late to forgive?

I was visiting friends recently and on my journey back to my hotel there was a diversion, which meant that instead of taking a direct train back to where I was staying, I had to go a longer way round via metro and train.

Clearly I wasn't the only person in this predicament as the metro was pretty full. However, I did manage to find a free seat beside a young woman with another seat beside me, free.

Before too long that seat was quickly snapped up by a lad, I'm guessing in his early 20's. He sat and chatted to his friend who was standing in the aisle, unable to bag a seat close by for himself. And opposite seemed to be a third friend.

After a short bit of bantering between the friends, the lad beside started to... the only way I can describe it is "body slam" against me. When it happened the first time I thought the seat had simply been a bit slippy and he had slid into me. However, after it happened a second, third and fourth time and I noticed him raising his body off the seat and slamming it sideways into me, I knew this was no accident.

Usually, when something like this would happen, when I was being made to feel uncomfortable, I would remove myself from the situation. I'd do the 'British' thing and be polite, leave and not cause a fuss. However, I have spent years and decades of being bullied throughout school and in the working environment and I felt I didn't warrant adding being bullied by a stranger to my list of accomplishments.

So I turned to the young lad and politely yet bluntly asked if he was wanting me to move so his friend could sit down. I had all intentions of moving if that's what he wanted. My journey wasn't going to be long so it was no big deal.

Immediately, however, he became verbally abusive, not too loud so everyone could hear him, but loud enough. That was a reaction I hadn't expected. However, I remained calm and asked him again if he was trying to get me to move, to which he replied with even more abuse. So I made the decision to stand my ground, stay seated and not interact with him. However, that simply made matters worse and his verbal abuse escalated to the degree that I started to feel scared.

At one point, his standing friend lent over to him and told him to calm down, to stop. And for that I mouthed "thank you" to his friend. However, the lad, by this stage, was so pent up with anger that he was incapable of calming down and he kept up his verbal abuse and threats. Should I move or should I stay? It wasn't long before I was due to get out so I decided to ignore him and stay seated.

However, my stop was the last station on the line and it was his stop as well. Feeling quite frightened that he would carry out the threats he had thrown on me, when the metro doors opened, I saw a gap in the crowd and quickly squeezed out, continuing to look behind me incase the lad was following.

Thankfully, he was nowhere to be seen and I reached my hotel safely.

It was only when I reached my hotel that the very idea of forgiveness entered my mind.

Forgiveness is not a concept that I was taught when I was younger. My family, like so many, held grudges against anyone who had seemingly wronged or hut them or members of their family. And forgiveness was seen as letting someone off the hook or condoning and allowing bad behaviour. So, forgiveness has not been something I've grown up, familiar with or regularly practicing.

It's only been in more recent years when I began my journey with spirituality that concepts such as forgiveness began to have more meaning, began to make sense, and I began to practice them.

In saying that, it takes time to change a habit of a lifetime, it times to reprogramme your behaviour. And, so, in the moment when I should have realsied that forgiveness and simply repeating the phrases of Ho'Oponopono could have de-escalated the problem I had found myself in, it was the last thing on my mind. My mind was directed more into survival mode than into forgiveness mode.

It was only when I arrived back at my hotel, when calmness had returned to me, that I thought about the power of forgiveness.

However, was it too little too late? The moment had passed, the opportunity had ended. Not wanting to get into a deep discussion about time, however, that statement only stands as truth when you believe that time is linear, absolute, and that it runs out. However, time isn't like that. And that means that, just because the moment had passed, it didn't mean I couldn't do anything. It didn't mean that shipped had sailed or I'd missed the boat.

And so, sitting on my bed, I quietly repeated the phrases of Ho'Oponopono and sent love to the young lad who had been so abusive to me on the metro. And I did this until I had settled, I felt better, and the experience felt nothing but something very distant, something that no longer triggered me or hurt me in any way.

Indeed, it's an experience that I haven't recounted since the event until here, now, sharing it with you. And that's something new to me. In the past when I didn't know the power of forgiveness and how it positively impacts us and allows us to move forward in life, I would have re-lived that experience countless times, thinking how I could have or should have acted differently (and, no doubt, from quite a negative viewpoint) and I would have re-counted that experience to anyone who would listen.

Even though I did not remember to practice forgiveness quietly in my head while the experience was happening, I remembered to practice it after the event and it was every bit as powerful.

Forgiveness is an incredibly powerful and positive concept and yet, sadly, most of us have been taught that forgiveness is about letting a perpetrator off the hook when they have hurt us.

So, rather than forgiving another, we tend to hold a grudge against them, waste our energy thinking up schemes and ways to effect our revenge, to hurt them for hurting us.

With forgiveness of others enabling us to benefit and move forward in life in a positive manner, isn't it time to seek...