Canyons are formed over millions of years, long-time erosion. The same can be said of rifts between people.
A single event usually isn’t the cause of a divide. Instead, it’s usually a succession of several small divergences that happen over time; a small slight, a barely there, barely perceptible injury, an oversight, an unintended insult, things that are swallowed down like bitter pills, things that accumulate in our bloodstream until they reach a critical level- the toxic dose. That’s when the fulcrum shifts; patience becomes annoyance, tolerance becomes discrimination and bigotry, kindness becomes bitterness. Most of us, being human and faillible creatures get caught up in ‘the ego’. Sometimes, it’s just hard to differentiate between a real wound and one that hurts our pride. Some of them are virtually undistinguishable from one another. Sometimes, we don’t want to admit they’re different. So we retaliate, we charge on, we bite back. There’s no reason to be proud of that, but we do it anyway. We’ve gotten so annoyed, so frustrated, there’s no empathy left. Sometimes we are so caught up in our own pain and instinct of preservation, we don’t notice the other involved party. In a way it’s like being blinded; it’s easy to forget the other person’s perspective.
Every now and then however, I think about words that escaped my mouth or moments when I was being selfish or self-centered. Often, even knowing my own feelings were justified at one point in time, I look back and regret certain things I’ve said or done. It’s always easier to look back on events with a cool-head and hindsight on our side and know that things could have gone differently. But then emotions get in the way…
‘I regret getting caught up in my own drama last winter, and writing that email I shouldn’t written, making things about me. It hits me now that he might have been busy, and I was being needy, that he was stressed out about work, that we all handle things differently. I regret things I’ve said when I should have bit my tongue-why didn’t I bite my tongue, why did I need to have the last word in with her, why did I think it was a good idea? I regret the lack of perspective then, which seems useless to me now, and how it would have been great to know then what I know now. I regret my temper, my weaknesses at times I should have been stronger, more kind, less mean.’
We all do it. We all get caught up in our own life, our own problems, our small individual perspective. Really listening is hard. Being selfless is hard. Putting other people’s need ahead of our own is hard. Thinking about ourself is easier- it always is. Sometimes it’s even necessary. It’s a balancing act. And I guess the bottom line is doing one’s best to do what feels right, do the thing which will create the fewer regrets. Once the damage is done, there usually is no turning back.