A few years ago, I went to see Bonnie Raitt opening for Mark Knopfler at Madison Square Garden.
I was so thrilled to see two of my favorite artists of all time in such a majestic arena. I managed to buy a ticket for the front row—of a nosebleed section. I’m an artist myself and that’s the best I could do.
Nonetheless, I picked well and had a great view of the stage.
At some point, we all got up to dance to one of Raitt’s groovy songs. I was in a state of rapture; music had taken over and my surroundings almost disappeared. Still electrified, I kept standing after the song had ended, waiting for the next one.
All of a sudden, I was hit by something in my back.
I turned around to see what it was and that’s when I saw that everybody else was seated except me, and I realized that someone had thrown something at me, on purpose, to make me sit back down. Someone had chosen to knock me out of my rapture state. Nobody came forth, and so I sat down feeling confused, ashamed, and angry. Eventually I was able to let it go and enjoy the rest of the show, although I still felt self-conscious of my movements.
At the end of the show, when we were all getting up and leaving, a man came up to me and said:
“That was wrong. I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have done it.”
I was floored! This guy singled himself out and came up to me to apologize.
I was astounded and speechless for a moment. Then I felt a sense of gratitude taking over, and realized my heart had opened up. I said, “It’s okay. Thank you,” and forgave him right away.
The hurt disappeared, and not only that, I felt love for this person.
I wanted to share this story because it was a powerful experience, for both of us, that I have never forgotten. We both walked away from Madison Square Garden free—free of resentment and shame and regret. We didn’t have to become vengeful or aggressive toward others and take it out on them. All of that was just gone in an instant.
Since then, I’ve been able to heal relationships with my family by having the same courage to admit my wrongdoings.
And I’m not talking about the apologetic state that I too often find myself in as a woman, which I’m actually trying to overcome. I’m talking about admitting when I’ve actually wronged someone.
I recognize that it’s not always safe to do and in some circumstances, hurting someone can be self-defense. But most cases require just a simple, “That was wrong. I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have done that,” like that guy did with me.
What if this could happen between nations, groups of people, and generations? What if the hurt and hatred could be transcended by a simple, sincere apology? What if love could bud in people’s hearts in that moment of vulnerability and authentic connection when we recognize each other as humans, as if saying to each other “I see you”?