I received a letter from a high school friend a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t seen him since the 80’s. More surprising than being remembered after such a long period of time was the reason for his having decided to contact me. He wanted to apologize for spilling a drink on me some 30 years ago.
Feeling Bad and Doing Something about It
I don’t know what he’s going through in his life for him to have made this gesture, but the fact that he did reach out is very interesting to me. We’ve all done things in our lives that we regret. Whether we intended to cause harm to another isn’t what influences how we feel today. The fact that we did “that thing” is what lingers in our memory. When we recall the occasions of our misdeeds, we seldom act upon that feeling of regret.
If you’re like me, you figure that a good deed committed elsewhere balances our karmic scale. That may be true, but approaching life in this way doesn’t address the feelings of the negatively affected person. In this case, I don’t even remember the incident that weighed on his mind, but that is not always how it is. Some feelings of resentment can last a lifetime.
Not only did he send me a handwritten note, he also included a $20 money order, presumably to pay for the dry cleaning. This was an extraordinary gesture, I think.
Leaving an Impression
We all come in contact with many people as we go about our business. Some of the interactions are positive, some are negative, but with many of these interactions we don’t pay any attention to at all. Some are with loved ones, others with acquaintances or co-workers, and many are with strangers. Whether we’re talking about the checkout person at the grocery, the driver of the bus, the person in the next cubicle, our partner, or our children, we leave an impression. Those impressions may be blah and unworthy of notice, or they can prompt smiles or frowns. It’s all up to how we approach each encounter.
You may be preoccupied, so you end up leaving a bad impression – but you don’t even notice.
I can recall times when I’ve chosen to go to a particular store or coffee shop, just because the person behind the counter was so upbeat and friendly. The opposite is also true, where I’ve avoided frequenting a business because of rude or disinterested staff. It’s clear that encounters with strangers do matter on some level, so it’s curious that we aren’t always cognizant of this when we relate to others?
Release Your Burdens
If you’re holding onto some bad feelings about something that you’re done, don’t dismiss those feelings or fret over them. Do something. Reach out to that person if you can. If that’s not possible, do something nice for someone else. I’m pretty sure that you’ll feel good about letting go of the burden by making a positive gesture.