So, I’m making breakfast sandwiches for Charlie for the week. I have them — all 8 of them — assembled with the exception of the last two scrambled egg patties. (Pampered Chef has this marvelous stoneware creation that makes this whole process quick and easy. Yay.)
I’m reaching into the microwave, removing the (hot!) stoneware, when my mind registers an unexpected thump behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I see Data standing at the edge of the kitchen, in his mouth a biscuit … with the sausage patty. Gulp. There goes the biscuit top. My mom voice, apparently, slathers on the guilt, and never have I seen a truer depiction of the “hangdog” look. He will not meet my eyes. He slinks over to the other side of the room, lies down, and averts his eyes.
I briefly (briefly, mind you!) consider trying to salvage the rest of the biscuit and the meat but realize that’s a bad culinary idea. Instead, I call him over. He obeys, belly to the ground, lies down, and continues looking everywhere but at me or the evidence on the carpet. He might as well be Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes: “I see nothing. Nothing!”
I snap his photo and then let him eat the rest of it. So much for punishment. But the whole thing makes me think about guilt, and the needless worry it generates about what might result. Data, who’s quickly back in the moment, isn’t worried about the future. There’s no guilt over the past. What’s done is done. He did something wrong, acknowledged it (thanks to the Mom Voice), and displayed contrition. What more can I exact from him? SHOULD I exact from him?
I’m grateful for Data’s guilt episode, because it reinforces something that’s been teasing its way through my brain.
It’s the same with us, you and I. How long do we make others suffer — do we suffer — for something that happened in the past? It may have been true once, but it’s no longer true. Now it’s just a story.
It’s the same with the future. If you think about it, the future never really arrives. When it gets here, it’s the present, always the present. Worrying about it simply steals joy in the moment — which is, of course, all we really have.
I say acknowledge errors and accept responsibility, express regret, ask for forgiveness, repent, make restitution (amends) — whatever your language of apology may be. And for others who have asked the same of you and who are still important to your life? Let it all go. Give that gift to yourself.
Return to the moment. Data did. He’s sleeping happily on the floor at my feet, dreaming of sausage biscuits, no doubt.