I sometimes think we are wind up dolls more than anything. We are given what we are given in terms of inheritance, facts of life, birthplace and name and family. Perhaps, as they say, we are given genes prone to alcoholism, or sugar, or metabolisms and intelligence. Then, all frail and vulnerable, we are given a childhood. We are scripted long before we have anything like choice. And we, all mechanical, grind on. Pulleys and wheels, instincts and fears. That heart beat, doing one thing and instantly repeating itself.
The effort of apology itself teaches me how much of grief I’ve inherited, how much shame and difficulty and argument is an echo, rather than a single act, an attitude rather than a moment.
The fact of apology, though, might be shifting from attitude into moment. To know that the heart has that double beat, but also the split second pause between, and that in the pause one might break through.
The attitudes of memory, habit, inheritance are grained so deep they cloud the vision. They stand between the eyes and reality. Filtering everything. Filtering my ideas of family, of love, of work, and of self.
The miracle of being human lies in choice. It is hard, choice. It means you have to accept what has happened as having happened, to recognize it as a game and be willing to stop playing. That may mean forfeit. It probably means assuming responsibility for things you didn’t make happen, want, or expect. Like childhood or genes or heartbeat. It means you fully accept the actions of other people. It means you fully accept the past without trying to fix it or shift the balance or come out even. You just take it as it is, and make a choice.
Hard, too, because you cannot, no matter how you try, project or plan or manipulate the way things are going to be in the future. There are no promises that come with apology. There is no way to know what the moment after next, or ten years from now, will be. Without that certainty, it usually feels safer to stay in the games, the habits, the way we know.
The only thing you get out of apology is the ability to look at how things are, now. And shift the trajectory a little bit.
Repetition is what we do, as humans. It’s what heart does, beat beating. But choice is also something we do. It’s built in, that pause, that splitting. It is possible to simply stop, lower your fists, let go the battles. This is something we know by heart.