The Art of the Apology

I have always argued that in its own right, the way we feel, the way we hate, your passion for things and people we love, the euphoric moment of when you put a mouthful of food you love into your mouth and the moment that person you love more than life itself turns the corner- these moments that you cannot really explain are your artistry. The art of who you are and who you choose to be. Its you taking up the brush every morning as you walk to the mirror, painting, colouring, shading your way through the day. Just like the rest of us, we are all hoping we are going to wind up with our very own masterpiece.

All artistry is born through language of some sort. It grows within us as we evolve and develop through life, first as we toddle off to school as four year olds trying to make friends, to even as OAPs battling their own bodies to keep drawing on the passion that gives them life. All of this, the artistry, the development and evolution is all born through the power of language.

I touched briefly on language last time when trying to deconstruct beauty, how we as a society have developed a strange fixation on using powerful words in situations where language of that power is only designed to promote a certain emotional response in you, the person listening. Let me explain.

What does it mean to apologise? To come out with the phrase “I’m sorry.” This is arguably one of the most powerful phrases in existence, for it, at face value, is you conceding that you made a mistake, that you screwed up and are looking for forgiveness- to reconcile with the person you are apologising to. You made a mess of something and now someone is upset and you need to do something about it. Hence we wheel out the same old phrase, thinking it can solve it all and you can go back to the way things were.

Apologies without action are excuses. Thats the thing with language, especially with the crafted apology. I don’t see the point in them. The art of an apology is to show you screwed up, but what you were doing at the point of this wrong behaviour is something you were fully aware of. Everybody knows what they are doing in any moment in time, the apology is just designed to try and get back to that time when we were all blissfully ignorant half the time. The action that caused you to apologise is something you chose to do- and you got caught. Stop using powerful language and the occasional tear to try and make things go back to the way they were before, its impossible.

The power of the artful apology packs so much of a punch we often think it’s the key to our salvation of a friendship or relationship, but once you feel the need to apologise, the connection is changed forever. That person, often without even realising doesn’t feel like they can trust you anymore, often guilty for even trusting you in the first place.

Now i’m not discounting all apologies as trash. Admittedly i feel like the vast majority of them are, but like beauty, apologies are a multi coloured faucet of powerful emotions, not towards the person you apologise to- but to you. It is here we find ourselves staring down the barrel of guilt. As we stare down the barrel of guilt, for an apology to be worth anything at all i feel like that barrel needs to explode in your face once or twice.

It’s the pain you feel that makes your apology worth anything. Not pain for being caught, not the pain of regret, because whatever we do or whenever we make a decision to act, we are fully aware of what we are doing. The pain is to be found in the horrific realisation of what you’ve done. The pain is what gives an apology its art, the pain of empathy as you see the tears well up in the eyes of that person you care about, as the walls you and them were working so hard to tear down go straight back up, higher now than ever before.

Take the hits. You have to. Understand what you have done and wander how you would feel about it if someone did it to you. Accept that you were aware what you were doing, regardless if you made a mistake and do something about it. You can own all the guilt in the world, wrecked by the pain of your ghastly mistake, but be dam sure this pain doesn’t earn you forgiveness. The art of the apology isn’t for the benefit of the other person, more so for yourself i think. It’s always been my belief we are becoming more self serving as a society and from this it can be more difficult to admit when you’re wrong.

It’s from this the apology is born. The apology is not to make things right, but to accept that you did wrong. That is when the apology takes an artful form. Stare down the barrel of guilt. Become a student of the mistake you have made, understand it, take on every emotion you feel from it, don’t hide from anything, then you have a firm base to build from. Thats the only way to grow- to evolve.

As for forgiveness, apologise truly and maybe you will be forgiven. As Shane Koczyan said: “apologise and be grateful you received peace at such a bargain.”

For nothing is certain, your apology might be yours- however the forgiveness you have no right to at all. This is the art of the apology, paint it as you will, born of pain on a hopeful path to a new peace.

Yours, with love as always,
DR x

image by Maycon Marco

4 thoughts on “The Art of the Apology

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