Saying you’re sorry can be downright scary. Particularly, if you’re not sure if the other party will accept your mea culpa even though it’s from the bottom of your heart.
That’s what I faced when I placed my tail between my legs and cautiously approached my gym. One of the managers had called the cops on me and another member the other day when we refused to leave a section of the pool that had not been open to the public. (See “In hot water at the gym”) We may have inadvertently trespassed when we remained in a hot tub which had yet to be readied with chlorine. Me and another guy didn’t care, and stubbornly sat in the water despite a threat of police intervention if we chose to continue to “occupy” the tub. One thing led to another and the other guy’s headphones got broke and police took statements from both sides as if they were separating a married couple who had nothing but bad things to say of what they saw in the heat of an argument.
I didn’t like what I saw in me when things cooled down from my PTSD (post traumatic stress) episode a day later. I followed the advice of old wise man and I stopped looking at the other person as an enemy, and more as a human being I should try to understand by putting myself in their place. It didn’t work at first. I kept focusing on the alleged wrong I believed had been done to me. But, little by little I came to understand the gym manager was actually looking out for my welfare – and the welfare of all the members who would use the facility – and that my ignorance prevented me from seeing this.
It wasn’t until speaking to a physical therapist and a registered nurse that I learned how much harm I could have been exposed to. I didn’t know that hot water was breeding grounds for germs and that an untreated spa or whirlpool has lead to so many infections and contagious ailments. I’m a city boy whose folks never had a swimming pool. I never worked in aquatics or investigated the use of chlorine.
But I have to admit that it was not just my ignorance that prevented me from seeing the manager was right. I got angry when told to leave. I got greedy – instead of being generous – I insisted on having my own way. The hot tub was one of the drawing points for my exercising. I got attached to soaking in it following cardio workouts and half-mile swims.
And who did this woman think she was trying to boss around two grown men, anyway? We knew what we were doing and my negative pride in my macho abilities prevented me from seeing the real reality. (I committed five out of the six imperfections I had been trying to overcome. See “Enlightening Meditation”)
Speaking of “real reality,” is there such a thing that exists beyond our regular senses? Can we experience it by trying to elevate ourselves, by elevating our consciousness in order to see things not just from a single point of view, but several viewpoints? Can we touch this reality by striving to be kinder, more compassionate?
All these thoughts went through my head as I walked up to the LA Fitness desk, passed my membership card to an employee and she checked me in. “My card hasn’t been revoked?” I asked. “No,” she said, and I eventually entered the main exercise area pushing my hood over my head, not ready yet to face the manager, but steadying my courage one step at a time.
We met and sat a nearby table with another manager.
We both apologized almost at once.
“You have nothing to apologize for” she told me. “But I hated myself for what I did,” I said with all sincerity I could muster. “I should have put out a sign,” she said of the open hot tub. “I should have gotten out when you told me to,” I countered. “I was too ignorant to realize you were only doing it for our own benefit.”
I then reached across the desk and took her folded hands into mine, thanking her for joining me in this mutual act of contrition. I felt the world and all the universes beyond us at that moment had shifted back to normal.
Forgiveness makes everything a whole lot better in life. I’m glad I got some today.