Remember When You …

by Ray Colon on December 8, 2013 · 10 comments

By liz west from Boxborough, MA (contacts) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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

By DVIDSHUB (Troops Reach Out to Afghan Villagers) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWe 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.

Author Bio:

Ray Colon has written 167 posts on Ray's Blog.

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kitt Crescendo
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December 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

What a great gesture this old friend made. Through the years I’ve learned that there are things we hold on to that barely make a blip on someone else’s radar…but you’re right. If it bothers you, reach out. Make the apology. It will help you feel better and move on…and it may just make their day.
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Ray Colon December 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Hi Kitt,

Yea, it was a pretty cool gesture. It does work both ways. We just never know if the slight has been long forgotten or has become a lifetime grudge.

After I wrote this post, I remembered an episode of Luis C.K.’s show where he made an impassioned apology to a former friend after years of not speaking to him, only to be told that he had made the same apology five years earlier, but had forgotten that he did that. :)

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Tristan December 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

Hi Ray!

I am so happy to see you back in the blogging world. I’ve missed your posts. Now for my apology to you … Sorry I didn’t get around to commenting on your last post after your long hiatus. I was up to my elbows in vomit. What a pleasant surprise to see that you posted again.

This is an interesting topic because I just had a lesson on repentance yesterday at church. We discussed why it’s important to deal with things now rather than have deathbed repentance. Among many other reasons, one reason is to get rid of that extra guilt and baggage from doing something wrong. Your friend must feel lighter and happier now that he did what he could to set things right with you. You had forgotten about the incident but it meant something to him to contact you after all these years.

Welcome back friend!
Tristan
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Ray Colon December 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Hi Tristan,

Inexplicably, your comment ended up in spam. I’m certain that you’ve posted more comments than anyone here, so that was really weird.

Oh no, you were, “Up to your elbows in it?” That’s not a pretty picture. :)

I agree that getting things out now is preferable to waiting, but I think that a lot of us (myself included) have a bit of a cowardly streak that prevents us from taking care of these kinds of issues — especially if our words or actions had serious implications. I bet that my friend does feel better. I know that I would.

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Tristan December 13, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Maybe the computers are up to something. Your posts ended up in my spam too so I was a little late getting to the party both times! My phone used to show me spam but not anymore.

The stomach bug that attacked my house was pretty short lived and not too bad. It was more like a 24 hour thing. It sure wasn’t fun when I had it but thankfully it ended as quickly as it came. We went to dinner to celebrate my birthday six days after the fact. It was more like a celebration that nobody was throwing up!
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Jean December 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Wow, that is special the person remembered. I have enough regrets, Ray. There have been some family tragedies. If I had only known….

On the positive side, I find it odd that I will hear from 2 different friends, who don’t know each other, in close timing after months of no communication. (because we’re just busy and faraway)

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Ray Colon December 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hi Jean,

It was special. It brought a smile to my face and brought back some fond memories from back then.

Having multiple unexpected contacts from old friends happen in unison is weird. Nice, but odd in the timing. It’s fun to be reminded of the people we used to know — especially as we get older and our memories start to fade. You’re not old enough to worry about that yet. :)

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Jean December 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm

You mean, you and I aren’t old enough –I will turn 55 next month. I am an aunt of 7 nieces and nephews with the eldest @around 27 yrs.

Maybe cycling makes me look as if I partake in a youngish sport.

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Ray Colon December 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Ha, Jean, how cool is that? You’re absolutely right, your avid cycling activities has always left me with the impression that you were much younger than I. Now that I know that we are contemporaries, my fitness habits are really put to shame.

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Tristan December 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Jean and Ray, remember that age is just a number. You are only as old as you feel. And we won’t talk about my age or I won’t be allowed to hang out here anymore! ;)
Tristan recently posted..Sew ColdMy Profile

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