This morning, at the gym, I exchanged heated words with another member.
I had just had an intense discussion with my son as I dropped him off to school and was in the middle of working out some of the stress from that.
The man’s comment took me off guard and I shut him down quickly and rudely.
When he started to say something else I said
“I am really not interested in your commentary.” very forcefully and he walked away and left me alone.
As I continued to work out, I thought about his words and realized I had completely misunderstood his intentions.
It gradually dawned on me that I was rude to him without real provocation.
I was wrong.
And sugarcoating it would only cheat me of a valuable lesson.
As I finished my workout, I noticed that he had went into the locker room.
I had this awful dilemma.
I could leave and then it would be awkward when and if I ever saw him again.
As I usually do not attend the gym at that time, the chances were good that I would never see him again.
I wondered how it would affect him.
I wondered if it would affect him at all.
I wondered if my rudeness contributed to a view he had of the world that people were awful.
I wondered what else he might have going on in his life and if my rudeness had somehow made those other things even more challenging.
He was an older gentleman, approximately 55, and I could tell he knew everyone there, as everyone who works out at that hour is around his age.
I thought about the possibility that I would never see him again and how I would wonder if he had died.
I know how I am.
I know how my mind works.
I was afraid to approach him and I was afraid to apologize.
I was afraid that he would reject my apology and I was afraid that he had told the other members what an ass I had been and they might gang up on me.
I considered walking out the door and driving away and pretending that the whole incident never occurred.
I know that I am not very good at doing that and I know that I do not want to become good at this.
I walked into the locker room and approached him.
“I’m sorry for what I said earlier. I was wrong. I thought you were insulting me, but as I thought more about it, I understood the true meaning of your words. I am very sorry for my rudeness.”
He was a very large man.
He squinted at me.
Then he swung his arm at me hard and fast.
It landed squarely on my shoulder, open handed.
“It takes a big man to walk in here and say that.” he said “We’re square.”
He slapped me hard on the back several times.
I loved the feeling of his open palm striking me.
It felt like love, acceptance and forgiveness.
It felt like we were both good men.