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I was recently reminded of a psychology teacher I once had who had her clients* dealing with anger to create a journal she called ‘the grudge book’. In it, the client writes out all the people towards whom they have unforgivable never forgotten hurts, which at the mere memory they clench their teeth and hands. The client is encouraged not to hold back but get it all out in a cathartic spew. The therapy mostly resides in the writer realizing how petty and absurd most of their grudges are. For the remaining grudges, it was the first step towards working on letting go or least learning to move on. Best yet, there would be forgiveness. “Why people don’t heal?” she liked to say, “They hold onto their wounds like merit badges, unwilling to let them go”  Apparently the acting of writing out the grudges was somewhat fun, but the afterwards process wasn’t something anyone really wanted to do. We all want the ones towards whom we hold grudges to suffer for their wrongs.  The grudge book was her means to get folks to heal. 

I don’t know how efficacious was this technique. I never wrote one myself. Perhaps I ought to, for I still hold grudges.  They fall into the common category of ‘folks who got away with it” viz. they did bad things – sometimes very bad – and there was no comeuppance, no ‘karma’ or godhead to strike them down for their sins.  There aren’t many, I suppose, but they pop up like an acidic burp from time to time to burn and sour my palate.  It would be an interesting exercise to scribble out my grudges and see what happens.  Hopefully I don’t turn into something monstrous.**

The Book of Faces has been inundating me with video advertisements for T-shirts.  The ads have in common two men looking half my age, one chastising his bro-pal for looking so sorry in that routine T-shirt. The new tops (gals have support bras; guys has these shirts” he exclaims) show off the shoulders and enhance the upper arms and help hide that ‘dad bod’.  Usually these ads end with the now properly bedecked man going off to the gym, looking happy that his peers won’t be judging him for what he has on. 

When I go to the gym I wear the most dingy of outfits. I am there to work out, not walk down a runway. I can assure you not once have I ever worried that the T-shirt I am wearing makes me look fat or it doesn’t show off my deltoids.  It is safe to say no man is looking at me while I work out, other than as something he doesn’t want to look like when he is ‘that old’.  True, the more-serious weight lifters wear skimpy tank tops to show off their physique, but I’ve never felt the desire to approach them to say ‘I love your top, where did you get it? It looks so good on you!’  

Perhaps if these unendliche ads on FB pay off with the youngsters I will soon be the only man at the gym in a regular fuddy-duddy shirt, getting looks of scorn and condemnation. If they do I can add them to ‘The Grudge Book’ as a separate chapter. 

*Counselors have clients; physicians have patients. 

**In C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Screwtape Letters’ senior devil while writing his nephew become increasingly wrathful to the point he transforms into a large centipede. Mr. Screwtape reflects this outer-transformation of his inner self is not a punishment from God but derives from ‘The Life force”, something Satan would worship if he didn’t worshipped anything other than himself. 

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September 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018