I was never one to give much weight or validity to an apology no matter how sincere. I am a proud Leo who has always struggled with apology and forgiveness. I work hard to do everything right all the time and my sense of virtue and justice hovers over me as an identifier. I’m aware I have to loosen up in terms of both.
In history and in the media, I’ve witnessed an abundance of apologies. Politicians who have been caught in crimes and misdemeanors can get off scot free with a well-written, carefully crafted apology. I’ve often marveled at this precise brand of speech writing skills.
Last weekend after my son’s final performance in a lead role in his first high school play, my son’s adrenaline together with peer encouragement got the best of him and he ended up punching a wall in the school’s dance studio. To his credit, his cast mates egged him on by chanting, “punch a wall, Jacob!” This punchline (no pun intended) had been the mantra throughout the three months of play rehearsal. Coasting on the exhilaration of four nights of standing ovations in a row, my son didn’t realize his strength and actually punched a hole in the wall.
As we meandered to our car after 11 PM on Saturday night, after the cast party, he confessed to the punch in the car. He genuinely felt bad and I couldn’t think of a time where he acted more “quintessentially teenage boy.” The next morning, with the hole in the wall clearly pressing on him, he volunteered to write an apology.
It wasn’t my intention, but the inner apology speech writer marched forth and formulated a few sentences – as a mere suggestion. I read them aloud to my son and he said, “YES!”
“It was irresponsible of me not consider the potential repercussions of such an emotionally energized action. Throughout our weeks of rehearsal, we had a running gag, “Jacob, punch a wall” and all along I did it jokingly. I never thought it would make any damaging impact.”
The dance teacher wrote back instantly. She was understanding and grateful for the thoughtful apology and had said it was not necessary for my son to repair or pay for it. The teacher also noted she would hold my son accountable for channelling his rage elsewhere.
When he received the email he ran in immediately to share the positive result. With pride in his eyes and a small smirk, he shook his head in disbelief.
“It got me off the hook” he sighed. I hope he never forgets the power of an apology.