i’m sorry my apology sounds insincere, I’ll try to make it more convincing next time

apology-form

Most of what I do as a counselor, besides deep listening, is to help hold pain. Injuries linger long after the horror of events/words have slithered across my clients’ fragile hearts. Age matters not a bit; traumas big or small, remain. One reason I’m contracted to assist in the soothing of psychic wounds is that the ‘perpetrators’ and witnesses haven’t acknowledged the hurt, haven’t apologized.

Apologies don’t have to mean you’re wrong, the other’s right, you did anything deliberately. They’re more about empathy, about caring that the other’s hurt, that the relationship means more to you than your self-pride or the polarized world of right/wrong, bad/good.

No one wants reasons either, at least not up front; those won’t salve the wound. There can be explanations but only after one is attentive to the others’ pain. Apologies are not about you or about being forgiven; they’re about compassion.

My friend, “Fred,” was often left waiting for his dad to pick him up from elementary school, sometimes over two hours, as other kids left, then teachers, then janitors…there was Fred leaping on curbs, skidding rocks and otherwise entertaining himself until his dad finally showed. Before Fred could get into the car he’d hear, “Wow, you’ll never guess who I met up with,” or “The coolest thing happened,” ad nauseum. Fred wasn’t given an apology but a “fun” excuse so there wasn’t room for him to have his own feelings of frustration, fear or anger—but he’d learned long before 3rd grade to suppress pretty much any true emotions around his self-absorbed parents.

Once, when Dario was two-ish, we biked past a crying toddler. He became distressed and asked me to turn back to “see her again” suggesting we hug her. By then her mom was there comforting. For the rest of the ride home, Dario continued to postulate why she’d been crying and what we might’ve done to “happy her.” There’s nary a young kid who doesn’t have natural empathy.

This is what happens to empathy:

  • If you don’t receive any you don’t have any to give. You can’t dispense something you rarely feel. If apologizing is seen as weakness or fulfilled in right/wrong thinking instead of a compassionate act of soothing distress, pride sets in and spins kindness into selfishness.
  • Our paradigm shames or belittles those who want to care, who’re exhibiting emotional pain or grief and often reveres those who don’t. It’s manly to disregard needs in others, in themselves, to not cry, to be “strong.”

Ironically, compassion is where true strength lives.

Attempt an apology that’s NOT about defending your position. Instead: Listen! Accept another’s suffering whether you think it’s justified or not. Remember? It’s not about you. What you think doesn’t really matter. Lastly, ask what can be done to resolve the hurt. There’ll be space for explanations, for your opinion afterwards. Be a soft witness to the other first. Especially with children—Please!

But truthfully, we all have a “fair/unfair meter” within us and we hunger for this same tender treatment.

the selfishness of sunscreen

The sun is being unjustly demonized.

There’s an unhealthy concern about our ‘flimsy’ skin and that ‘savage’ star of fire. Yes, there’s the potential for contracting skin cancer by overexposure to the sun but there’s also the very real health risk of not receiving enough Vitamin D3—which we’re gifted to naturally garner from sun-rays—by underexposure to sunshine. Vitamin D deficiency significantly increases cancer risk and poses other serious health concerns. It’s all about balance, people.

Health “professionals,” newscasters and busybodies constantly berate us to wear that sunscreen. This scolding is almost as bad as the non-stop villain-izing of tobacco (BTW, I don’t smoke), and the increased chiding I take for not wearing a bicycle helmet. These fashionable, PC views are all the rage these days (in the U.S. anyway) but they’re more about controlling others and/or fear-based thinking than a dispassionate reality or fairly presented facts.

When I was in Akumal Mexico snorkeling in Yal-ku Lagoon, no sunscreens were allowed. Why? Because annually, around the world, an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons (tons!) of sunscreen wash off swimmers’ bodies causing damage to fragile ecosystems. Plus there’s this: many of us don’t want to dive into a lake, pool, cenote or lagoon with an oil slick sliming its surface.

Could we all get a reality check please? This shouldn’t be just about you and your medical indoctrination of fear. Yes—we know that too much sun damages things; so does too little. But, what about too many chemicals? [the real cause of cancer, IMHO] Sunscreens are brimming with questionable chemicals and our absorptive skin is the largest organ of our body.

The main components of most sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—ingredients that will never biodegrade—which carry the true likelihood of harm to corals and sea life. Several contain mineral oil (petroleum) which has low solubility in water and is known to be toxic or fatal to scores of aquatic life and birds. If sunscreen is noxious to other species then it’s more than probable we’re being poisoned by it, too.

What can those of you who aren’t blessed with Italian skin do? Wear hats, shirts and use beach umbrellas. The men in Saudi Arabia and other arid countries don the light-colored cotton thobe, a loose, ankle-length robe and for their heads, the cotton ghutra. Women in various cultures have used parasols, bonnets and sunhats. What do you think people did for many a millennia before the “invention” of those fondly espoused sunscreens?

It’s trendy to wish to return to a simpler time. Well…start here. We still have a few weeks of summer left. Wear clothes, not sunscreen. Protect your face with a hat. Consider all of your body’s organs and, while you’re at it, contemplate the beautiful organism you live on. Cover—not slather—yourself.

p.s. I despise animal “dress up.”

“do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

…so says Modest Mouse, nailing his generation’s main failing, IMHO: capriciousness.

It’s not what people pronounce they stand for that I value, it’s what they actually do. And not just “right now,” but consistently. You can’t expect others to trust and believe in you, if you abandon your convictions whenever they get slightly burdensome or you compromise when you’re afraid or lackadaisical.

How many people do you know who fervently state that they’re vegetarians or never eat sugar until they’re at a potluck or restaurant with little options, those who say they only eat organic and local but usually shop at Slave-way cause it’s near their house, denounce spanking but slap their children for “talking back” or maintain that we should speak calmly with kids but scream at them for spilling their juice or coming home late?

The truth of trust lives in your actions, dependable actions. This is what makes those around you feel secure. Holding to one’s principles doesn’t mean doing so only when convenient; it’s the opposite. Courage isn’t undertaking difficult things, it’s undertaking difficult things while holding hands with your fear.

You don’t have to be perfect but you can’t be “consistently inconsistent” and call yourself integris. To be “gently” principled doesn’t have to signify fickleness only that you aren’t dogmatic or expect others to live as you do. Still, that should be the rarity, not the norm. As Oscar Wilde says, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

Personal inauthenticity is a fatal disease; it kills you one day at a time. If you say you’re going to do something, follow through. Stand on your beliefs—don’t throw a rock and hide your hand. Do what you do with passion, integrity and pluck!