Never forget the nine most important words of any family-
I love you.
You are beautiful.
Please forgive me.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
What we need is a culture where the common experience of trauma leads to a normalization of healing. Being able to say I have good reasons to be scared of the dark, of raised voices, of being swallowed up by love, of being alone. And being able to offer each other: I know a healer for you. I’ll hold your hand in the dark. Let’s begin a meditation practice. Perhaps talk therapy is not enough. We should celebrate love in our community as a measure of healing. The expectation should be — I know we are all in need of healing — so how are we doing our healing work?
~Adrienne Maree Brown: All of Me, Stories of Love, Anger, and the Female Body
Tuesday morning, as part of the yoga class I am participating in, I watched this video: The Power of Apology. It’s a very powerful video, especially towards the end when Juan Carlos Areán, a Mexican man of Spanish descent, shares the apology he offered to the indigenous people of Mexico. The video is about 20 minutes long. I highly recommend it.
I have been thinking a lot about apologies lately. We’ve explored them a little within the context of the yoga class, but there has also been the unlearning or unraveling I’ve been experiencing throughout the class and throughout the times we are currently living in. It started for me, if I remember correctly, with hearing a bad apology. I won’t offer up names or links, but will tell you it involved a yoga teacher who has a podcast, a man who offered up what I would describe as a bad apology to a woman whom he felt he might have harmed through inaction and then by bringing her up in one of his podcasts. A bad apology, as I describe it, is the apology that starts out well enough and then devolves into a “but.” I am sorry, but… Usually the “but” is followed by an “if.” I am sorry, but if you hadn’t done this or if you had done that, sort of thing.
I also tend of think of a bad apology as one that is self-centering. I am sorry, but you did [this] to me first. I know bad apologies really well because there was a time when I made my own bad apologies. It still happens every now and again. I am aware enough, now, to back up when that happens. I start over. A genuine apology has no conditions, places no blame on the other, and is not filled with ifs and buts. If I’ve done something that requires an apology, I need to own my actions, not play games about who did what to whom. And if there is a apology due from the other side (sometimes there is because it takes two to tangle), well, that’s up to them, isn’t it?
Throughout the unraveling of the past year, I’ve found myself wanting to offer genuine apologies, some to people I can no longer get in touch with because they have died or I have no idea how to find them. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it (write a letter, perform a ritual of some kind?), or if I was even ready to do it since those ifs and buts would sometimes crop up. Trying to justify bad behavior is a sure sign I’m not on the right track.
It’s easy to think that we would be better people if we lived in a better world, to suppose we would have acted in better ways if the conditions had been optimal. I suspect, however, that it is the opposite. We would live in a better world, a healing world as Adrienne Maree Brown puts it, if we could and would be better people, starting with some awareness of how connected we are, and some understanding of how our thoughts, words, and deeds affect others.
While watching/listening to the video, Mr. Areán’s apology to the indigenous people of Mexico went straight to my heart/soul. I wonder what it would be like to offer up an apology for the deeds of my ancestors who wittingly or unwittingly contributed to the need for the reckoning that is playing out today. What would I say? How would it feel to say it? Who would I offer up my apologies to?
This all ties in with a discussion we had in yoga class Tuesday evening. I find myself thinking about what it is I need to clear up (or clean up) in order to have a peaceful death. More than that, what is important in life? What is not so important? (Kathy wrote a wonderful post/letter about this subject. Go see! I’ll wait for you here.) Am I spending more time with the important or the not-so-important? If being present, or in the present, is important, when is it easy for me to be present? When is it more difficult? Are there things I will regret doing or not doing? Is there a way to clear/clean up the regrets? It’s funny how this kind of examination can lead you down all sorts of paths.
In other news… Being here is risky business. I knew that when we made the decision to spend a couple of months in Ohio. However, we have all been as careful as we can be and still, there is the possibility of exposure to the virus. It’s an indirect possibility that is in the vicinity of four degrees of separation. We’re waiting on test results for the person who was exposed and hoping that she didn’t pass it on to the person who has contact with the person who has contact with our family members. It sounds like masks were worn and precautions were taken, but we won’t know for sure until the test results come in.
We have managed to establish a little bit of routine this week. Mornings working, afternoons playing. The heatwave continues and the days are oppressive. Still no rain worth speaking of. There is a better chance for rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed that we get some. M the Younger has planted a large garden. He is experimenting with the idea of doing some market farming, selling produce at a farmers market or perhaps having a small stand in front of the house. I think he has over 200 tomato plants along with cabbages, peppers, carrots, beans, corn, and herbs. We have been feasting on the green and wax beans for the past few days. Delicious!
Thank you so much for visiting with me today. We continue to have some really pretty sunsets, perhaps due to the haze and heat and humidity. Let’s meet on the front lawn and see what happens this evening. Sunset is scheduled for 8:59 PM. Bring something to drink. You’ll want to keep hydrated in this heat.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,461) Fresh peaches, locally grown and in season, from a local open-air farm market. 1,462) Fresh green beans and wax beans from M the Younger’s garden. 1,463) Lavender syrup that my daughter-in-law made with the lavender from her garden. She gifted us with a jar of it. It’s wonderful in iced tea. 1,464) The house we’re renting. It’s a lovely place with a beautiful and expansive yard. The house is a little too big for us and yet, it’s just right, especially when the boys are here. 1,465) Being able to walk from here to Breezy Acres, through the meadows that are alive and beautiful.