Just before I was to begin teaching, I got caught in a situation that I didn't expect. I ended up speaking quite rudely to someone who didn't deserve it. The people who we wound in crossfire must be legion. Seconds after, I began work. My moment of impatience was in my head and I had to firmly brush it aside or I would not be able to focus on teaching, on keeping things running. So, with a mighty heave, I pushed, it slid, and the day went on.
At lunch time the woman I had spoken harshly to was passing by where I was sitting. I screwed up my courage and said, "Excuse me." She stopped and I jumped in, "Sometimes before a presentation, I get very nervous and react badly to unexpected things. I spoke rudely to you and I had no right to, I am sorry, I hope you will let me apologize." Now, it didn't go quite that smoothly, as soon as I had started to apologize she kindly began to brush it aside. But I was determined and I got it all out.
In the end she simply said, "I accept your apology."
It had only been a small moment, it had only been a little interchange, but that small moment would have grown in my mind. That small second of lost control would have soon controlled my entire memory of what had happened. And what had happened that day had been remarkable.
I don't know why I find apology so hard.
I never regret giving one.
Yet, good golly Miss Molly, it was hard to do.
But, magically, because the apology will take a big eraser to that moment in my memory. In a year or two, I'll remember a day of achievement, not, as did happen, a day when I was a jerk to someone who didn't deserve it.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word, true, but maybe because it's a word that has the hardest work to do.