It’s very easy for any of us to justify our actions in any give situation, regardless if our actions are right or wrong. It is instinctively easy to be right, or at least to create our own reality of being right.
What is terribly difficult at those moments, is knowing when we should say sorry.
We should never say sorry in front of our enemies, it is not wise to apologize.
Not because we shouldn’t, but because they will not hear us anyway. Our enemies, no matter what we say, or how sincere we are, will use our apology against us. They will sharpen their weapons with our words, and use them against us.
Thankfully, as we grow older and wiser, we won’t have to worry about engaging our enemies. Our enemies will always be there. As we get older, we will learn to focus our energy on the people that matter.
Saying sorry, is not a sign of weakness.
It is a sign of tremendous strength.
I think an honest and heartfelt apology, along with its cousin, gratitude, go a long way in becoming a hell of an individual and living a meaningful life.
Admitting we are wrong will never be easy, but when we do, it will be a great indicator as to who we are as a person.
This morning I disappointed my son.
I was busy paying some bills online, and he asked me if I could serve breakfast. I said in a few minutes, but both he and his sister were impatient. He asked if he could serve breakfast and I didn’t object to the request.
He tried his best to tilt those big cereal boxes, the best he could with his little hands, but ultimately, he ended up spilling a lot of it, on the table, and the floor.
It wasn’t that he spilled the cereal that irritated me, it was the fact that he thought it was funny, and didn’t try to do anything about it.
I have not sworn at anybody in anger, since at least grade eleven, when I told Missus F, to go and make love to rambunctious goats and sheep, in the middle of a beautifully luscious meadow.
I just don’t swear at people, nor do I swear at my wife, or my children.
I was however visibly upset, that my son could be so careless.
Usually, he is very good at ignoring my parental instruction, but for some reason, on this particular morning, my sour words drove him to tears, and he left the kitchen, and huddled in corner of our green sofa.
I thought about what I should do. I could either be right or embrace the world of possibilities.
I could teach my son that he was incompetent, and his tears indicated he was certainly open to believing me, or I could apologize, and mend a broken relationship.
I was busy. It was stupid. I should have put paying bills on hold for the moment, and helped with breakfast like I always do. I didn’t. I own that.
I should have also realized some basic rules of physics. Small hands and big boxes, lead to spills. Again, I own that.
I called him back to the kitchen and in front of his sister, I hugged my son for a long while. I wiped away his tears, and got on my knees, so that I speak to him, eye to eye.
Being eye to eye is important.
I told him that daddy was sorry. I should have known better.
I apologized, because I don’t really care if he ever masters his pouring skills. What I really want is to build a meaningful relationship with my son. I want him to grow up to be a young man that has hope and joy in his heart, and encouragement for others upon his lips.
I want him to believe in the impossible.
This may have been an insignificant moment in our lives, but it is precisely these irrelevant little moments that stay with us for a very long time, and mean everything.
My father was an alcoholic.
Nobody called it that. He just drank a lot.
On occasion, he would get really mean and argue with my mother.
As a little boy, when I was about Harrison’s age, I was really enraged at his drinking, and at his treatment of my mother. I remember that I started to yell at him, and tell him what a terrible father he was.
My dad slapped me in the face with his hand.
It really hurt.
He was such a generous, kind, thoughtful, and beautiful man, but no matter how much I tried to wipe this moment from my mind over the years, I was simply not able to shake it from my consciousness.
As I grew up, we never spoke about it.
On August 12th, 2009, on my birthday, he was saying some bizarre and incomprehensible things, and so I called an ambulance and we sent our dad to the hospital. The doctors put him on some oxygen and he regained his clarity.
His lungs, after decades of abuse, could no longer expel carbon dioxide from his body. Without the aid of an oxygen tank, he had to face a life of being eternally bed ridden. He decided to let go, and he did.
The day before he died, after he made his last confession and received the sacrament of the sick, he turned to me, grabbed my hand, asked me to come closer, and looked me in my eyes.
He told me how very sorry he was that he hit me when I was a little boy. He had tears in his eyes and asked for my forgiveness. He told me how very proud he was of me, and how grateful he was that I was his son.
I was shocked that he remembered and thought about it as much as I did. At that moment, my childhood memory, was the furthest thing from my mind. Over the years, as a means of moving forward, I simply buried this moment, and put one foot in front of the other.
What his tearful apology did for me cannot be described in words. He relieved both of us of burden I no longer have to carry.
When it matters most.
When it counts the most.
It is wise to summon up the courage, to gather our strength, and to make things right.
I hope for the rest of your life, that you no longer fuck up.
But if you do, I hope you find some strength and courage to say you’re sorry.