Hanging out with some people last week and someone said, how can I forgive someone who won’t forgive me, but they won’t say why? This particular person doesn’t have energy tools and I sense that she doesn’t want them so I suggested, why don’t you watch Ted Lasso?
This show on Apple TV is about so many things. If I were allowed just one word to describe it, I think I would choose just that word: forgiveness.
American Ted Lasso has been recruited to coach a soccer team in Britain. Unbeknownst to Ted, the owner of the team has brought him on board for vengeful reasons of her own, with the hope that he will lead the team to failure. Unaware of this plot twist, and seemingly impervious to her frequent attempts to reject him, Lasso, with the persistence of a golden retriever, remains eternally optimistic and accepting of everyone around him and also of the fact that he’s never coached soccer and might not succeed at his new job.
Initially he is met with tremendous resistance by nearly every person he encounters, most of whom are clearly not familiar with the concepts of kindness and community. But as the seasons unfold, the show beautifully illustrates what happens when people and their foibles are consistently met with love, forgiveness and inclusion; most of the characters raise their own game just by virtue of knowing Ted. A stark contrast to the former owner of the soccer team, the profoundly mean-spirited Rupert, Ted has a magical ability to hold space for the other characters to see themselves without the impediments of doubt, invalidation, judgement and resistance, and they start to match the vibration of love and acceptance that he brings into their lives. It’s so interesting to watch the stoniest characters relax into goodness and decency.
As his community begins to heal and come together as a real team, we start to see Ted’s unflagging optimism getting in his own way. His sunny acceptance of everything and everyone isn’t just a gift, but also a coping mechanism that helps him deal with unacknowledged personal trauma. As he extends forgiveness to others, the story also becomes about seeing, accepting and forgiving the self. Ted Lasso shows us what’s possible when we have permission to learn and grow in an atmosphere of community and acceptance, as we lumber sometimes slowly toward redemption. While it’s clearly a feel-good story, the improvements the characters make in their own lives are often clumsy and tentative, just like in real life. One character slides so far back in integrity as to be almost unrecognizable, but the undercurrent of forgiveness prevails even in the face of what could accurately be described as cruelty.
When I watch Ted Lasso do his thing, I am aware of a higher version of myself, and I think that’s a big reason for its popularity. We all carry the best of ourselves somewhere within us, and the story is a magnet for what Abraham Lincoln referred to as the “better angels of our nature”. Ted Lasso is also ultimately about being good without having to be perfect, about letting ourselves be led toward a higher vibration in spite of our flaws or even alongside them, until we are able to make peace with them and let those flaws go, or at least learn to recognize and temper them. That can be in this lifetime, or it can be a work in progress over many.
Watching the show I realized anew how boring it would be if we were perfect, if we got everything right all the time and had no need for each other. It sounds funny to say, but what a drag that would be! We’re meant to keep learning; life can have moments of ease but our flaws are what lead us toward growth, and arguably, they make us interesting.
Thinking about my friend’s dilemma: the person that won’t forgive you and won’t tell you why, is probably working on something and right now, you don’t get to know what it is. Don’t make up a story; let them work it out. If they need you to weigh in, they’ll let you know. If she had the tools, I’d tell her to move the energy that won’t let her forgive herself. But we’re not all on the same journey and everyone learns in their own way.
The bottom line is, we’re all here to level up, except maybe those folks that have chosen to have a resting lifetime this time around. We love them because they remind us that we won’t always struggle; we too sometimes mock-up entire lifetimes of beauty and ease. And if you don’t meet those folks very often, maybe it’s because humans tend to seek growth, more than they do rest. In the meantime, regardless of the path you are on, anyone can bask in this beautiful, universal tale of unconditional love and the ways it can heal and transform us.