The most important points of human development have come to me during quiet moments of reflection, humility, and tranquil states of being.
As I have progressed in years, I have come to the knowledge that many humans struggle with a strong compulsion to “be right at all costs,” especially within their individual circles of influence. Overcoming the urge or tendency to want to be right at all costs is an important self-mastery skill I hope to continue to improve upon in my remaining days.
To beat others up with a self-stylized version of truth “as I see it,” is a particularly hubristic and damaging personality trait. This compulsion has rarely furthered or supported my relationships with others and most oftentimes drives irrevocable wedges of resentment and destruction.
With this concept in mind, I seek to move forward in the faith or hope that those I have harmed will eventually forgive my previous lack of tact. I illustrate with a story of realization and poignant insight.
There was a time in my early fifties, I thought I would lose my father to death, before I could tell him how much I loved and respected him. I remember Dad as being a very hard man to please during my adolescence. It bothered me I could never seem to quite figure out how to get him to say, "I'm proud of you," let alone, “I love you.”
One day while visiting he and my mother at their farm, I thought I would try and make amends with him. It came to me, rather than asking him to explain his part, or what I perceived at the time to be his follies, I should ask him to describe his feelings about how hard it must have been for him to put up with my bull---- [aggravating nature].
I asked him, "How did you hang?" His response was priceless and demonstrated an important lesson to me on the art of losing pride and extreme selflessness. He slowly turned his gaze toward me, raised his hand to stop me from exploring further and he quietly said, "I was too hard on you. I didn’t have enough patience with you and never gave you a chance."
Up to that time, I hadn’t imagined he would ever say such a thing to me. I had previously learned through his example, if I were to maintain discipline and respect with those of whom I remained in charge, I was to never admit weakness, nor recognize poor judgment. I had to be right at all costs. It slowly dawned on me he was admitting both weakness and poor judgment in his role as my father. As I look back on the singularity of that life changing moment, I think I expected something monumental to happen . . . something far different. But nothing did, at least not right away. It has taken greater reflection for its value to fully sink in.
Over time his words have given me clarity, peace, and understanding. They have relieved me of, oh so many, difficult memories of times when I had suffered and wept. There has been no prideful vindication, nor feelings of sweet revenge, as I might have expected. Dad had given me something far greater than being right. He had modeled to me a greater gift, a gift better than gold. He has taught me to willingly and more openly admit mistakes . . . to seek for other moments to take responsibility for shortcomings.
To seek to honestly and frankly clarify one’s behavior, is to seek to eradicate corruptive pride. Making amends with others, whom may have been crossed along the way, is to build a bridge of unconditional positive regard, love, warmth, and acceptance. It is a gift of eternal import. Priceless in nature and kind.
I love my father and I know he loves because of the example he has given to me.