Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What feelings do I want people to remember long after my words and behaviors are set aside?
Humans are a messy lot. We try, and sometimes we fail, we take three steps forward and two steps back. Emotions can overtake us in a heartbeat, and not always in a good way. We won’t ever get it right, but I don’t think that is the point. The point is to learn from the times we fail, from the messiness of being human.
The past few days, I have been irritable. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that has me on edge. I feel out of sorts. It could be the weather. We had some 70 degree days followed by snow and freezing temperatures. Drastic changes in weather affect us mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am not consciously aware of anything fueling the irritability related to my work. Maybe it’s the rising gas, food, energy, everything prices, and the war on Ukraine? One is the result of the other, for the most part.
War seems so senseless. The casualties – the polite way we refer to innocent people dying because some dictator got his shorts in a bunch. Why now? What prompted the attack? Oil? Whim? Ultimate control? Those are rhetorical questions, by the way. It’s always about control in the end, regardless of what we tell ourselves. Power is a drug – one of, if not THE most lethal. I don’t suppose Maya Angelou’s statement keeps the power-hungry from sleeping at night.
The other day I was less than kind to someone on the other end of the phone. The person hadn’t irritated me – the person was working for a company that irritated me. Unfortunately, the woman incurred my frustration. It wasn’t her fault by any means. She was just in the line of fire – a disembodied voice on the other end of the phone trying to make a living so she can keep herself, and maybe a family, afloat. A casualty, if you will. And then, Maya’s words floated into the flames of my frustrated thoughts. Now, I was more irritated – this time with myself.
I am not a Christian in the traditional, religious sense. I believe in God, Divine Love – whatever word one chooses to use to describe the universal life force residing within us all. I believe in Karma. I believe that one day we will stand before Divine Love and review our lives – everything we did and said. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So, one day I will review the day when I was less than kind to someone undeserving, and review every other time I was less than kind. I will feel what she felt, I will see how my words affected her, and any ripple effects they may have had. And, I won’t have an excuse to offer. Nothing will justify or make right what I said on the day I was fed up with life and the world as a whole.
People will forget what I said, people will forget what I did, but people will never forget how I made them feel. Some days, that statement is a good thing. Some days, that statement stings…..