Do the right thing...
This isn't a post aggrandizing the cinematic accomplishments of Spike Lee, or even to throw gushing praise down on Bill Nunn's portrayal of Radio Raheem in that classic 1989 film, but to share something with you that equates to an itch I refused to scratch for a long, long time. Don't misunderstand, I could go on and on about Ozzie Davis, and Danny Aiello, and John Turturro but this story has less to do with how I feel about others as it does how I feel about myself.
Today, after almost seven years, I apologized to someone I had owed one to for a long, long time. I once walked away from what was something of a dream job with an over-the-top expletive (or series of expletives)aimed in the unfortunate direction of a few surprised and unsuspecting people who had earned those words in my rapidly blurring eyes. It was largely that fact that they were so incredibly unsuspecting that erally fueled the expletives. I cleaned out my desk and left the bulding before security asked me to leave. I'd never done that before, and I've never done that since, but that one solitary moment bothered me for a long time. So today I emailed one of the people who bore witness to my passionate dismantling, and I apologized for ever having treated anyone that way. I didn't back away from my reasons, nor did I venture to solicit an acceptance of this apology, but I offered one because I don't want to be that kind of guy, not even after all these years. I want to be bigger than the memory of my immature actions.
I'd thought about it for years...the event was so uncharacteristic of the kind of person that I am, and yet I did't regret my seemingly ancient motivation, the thing that stirred me so much that I was willing to walk away from something that I loved. What moved me to pen an apology and ship it off to a distant professional acquaintence, years and years after the fact, was knowing that I didn't want to leave such an embarrassing blemish on a completely blank canvas of personal and professional memories. I sit in this office and talk to kids every day about things like choices, and character and integrity, and here I wasn't even practicing it myself, at least not to the fullest extent. That's not the guy I want my daughter to know. So I awkwardly typed and sent a message that tucked pride and hesitation away in my backpocket so that humility could be laid bare on the table. I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was much too late.
It was a good exercise in doing something that is difficult, in stepping up to the plate and taking a swing, of being the person that you want to be, and of reaching for ideals that often seem just out of our reach. I want to be the kind of man that people can say something admirable about. I want to be the kind of person that can do difficult things because they are the right thing to do. With all this talk in Ann Arbor, Michigan about what a real "Michigan Man" might be these days, I want to carve my own definition of that illusive term and then meet my own lofty expectations. I want to be the kind of person that would do exactly what I've just done.
I don't know how I feel about it yet...it's still somewhat unprocessed, but I do know that today I did something that was hard to do but I did it anyway. Zoey, I hope that you read this someday and realize that your Dad worked very hard to be the kind of Dad that you deserve. I can tell you, for certain, that life is all about the choices you make and that hardly any of them are beyond revisiting to get right.