A “Legend” of Forgiveness in My Life
Forgiveness has been a huge theme in my life, and when I read the “Legend,” it reminded me of many a past circumstance. Practically every relationship problem—be it with family, friends, or a significant other—that I've ever experienced or heard of could improve with a good dose of forgiveness. In this short story, Jorge Luis Borges elaborates on the tale of Cain and Abel, and brings up an interesting point about forgiveness. The two brothers meet in the afterlife, and Abel doesn't remember what happened, saying, “Was it you that killed me, or did I kill you?” (230). Cain believes that he has finally received true forgiveness, “because forgetting is forgiving” (230). Through contemplation, I have discovered a particular relationship in my life where this insight is especially true.
In high school, I was quite open about my convictions and was not at all concerned about the consequences of sharing these with everyone, so I often didn't notice that they didn't want to listen. For the most part, my friends were fine with this; most of them were not quite as bold as I, so my bluntness was tolerated and I was fairly understood. They knew I loved them and that I wasn't looking down on them for believing and acting differently. However, to anyone unfamiliar with my ways, I could sound extremely judgmental. During my sophomore year, one particular guy, Garvey, joined our circle. He was, in fact, just as opinionated and blunt as I, and so the friction began. Garvey and I were as different as a fruit is different from an animal. Just like Cain and Abel, our interests were contrasting, our beliefs conflicting, and our conversation accusing.
The most difficult aspect for me was that he befriended my two best friends very quickly, and, in their wisdom, neither of them took my distrust of Garvey seriously enough to end the friendship. In retrospect, though it is true we didn't agree on much, I was also mildly jealous of Garvey for stealing my friendships, like Cain envied Abel's favor with God.
Things did not progress smoothly—whenever we talked, we would end up arguing, and I felt Garvey was determined to push my buttons in any way he could. I thought I was trying to make the friendship work, but my constant disapproval of his choices poisoned any possibility for a relationship. He made a handful of choices I saw as mistakes, and so I deemed them support for my distrust. Very soon after we realized this was going nowhere good and came to a mutual decision to not pursue any form of friendship beyond casual acquaintances. In essence, we agreed on a mutual disapproval of the other, yet to still be civil to each other when required. As with Cain and Abel, jealousy and judgment aided the means that brought destruction—for them, a life was lost, and for me, a possible friendship was broken before it began.
Years have passed now, and like the characters in “Legend,” we spent quite a while without any communication at all. Now, like Cain and Abel, time has brought us back together again, different people and in completely different circumstances. In the months leading up to our reunion, I had realized I had forgotten much of what caused the drama between Garvey and I; the problems were no longer issues because we had both grown up, moved on, and learned our own forms of tolerance. Though I had forgiven through forgetting as much as I could, I also realized what Abel did: “...because forgetting is forgiving...I, too, will try to forget” and I made a consciously went even further, and dismissed the wrongs I still remembered (230). In order to repair our friendship, I decided to forgive Garvey through the choice of forgetting the acts he had done that had hurt me. Just in the past few weeks we have started conversation again, and I believe a successful friendship would not be possible without forgiveness stepping in and fading those grudges into the foggy recesses of forgotten memories.