Making amends this year

Better Say Sorry

Making amends this year

Don’t let the regrets of 2015 fester into burdens for the coming years. Reethika Azariah Kuruvilla shows you how to bid a grateful adieu to the year that was

“I’mma let you finish.” Seldom has a line been so immortalised as Kanye West’s unforgettable interruption at MTV Video Music Awards in 2009.

In case you missed the now-infamous incident, remember that you’re square. Here’s how the story went: Taylor Swift, in all her beauty, finally wins the best female video award for the year.  As the singer was giving her acceptance speech, Kanye grabbed the mike, to say “I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”

Never known to be a man of few words (he gave just a 20-minute speech at his own wedding), this is one platform Kanye certainly didn’t have to get onto. Given that Beyonce’s Single Ladies was nominated in just about every category, it’s safe to say that he did really have a point.

However, put in context, stealing a hardworking young musician’s thunder was absolutely uncalled for. Cut to 2015 Grammy’s: the duo is photographed “shaking it off” and smiling with Kanye’s promises of getting “in the studio” and working together. If that ain’t making amends, I’m not sure what is.

As the year comes to a close, as it does after every 365 days, let’s take a moment to look back. 2015 has been a fascinating ride. The lives we have touched remain relationships for a generation; those we broke, still hurt. Reminiscing about these past months, the people we’ve met, the places we visited and the things we did don’t all make happy memories, but they are memories all the same.

Revisiting the past does have its benefits. Experiences from yesterday are essentially what make us who we are today. Take stock of what happened and keep the good memories stored in that part of your brain with easiest access.

Move unhappy thoughts to the back and filter out those that can be changed. Aim to make amends before the clock strikes 12 at the end of the year.

What’s on your mind?

Happy memories come from conversations with strangers on a long journey, the smiles of children in a random village you were driving through, your parents’ hugs when you’ve gone home on a much-due visit, the smell of home-cooked food, an easy evening with friends, the sound of your sibling’s voice on the other end of the line...

But relationships are seldom perfect. More often than not, we don’t even notice things are going wrong until they’re so wrong that they cannot be made right again. Take quick stock of any situation where you think the tides seem to be turning. And build those sand bags up to protect bonds that floods could break.

Don’t leave an argument festering overnight with your spouse and make amends with your parent before the day ends, even if you don’t “feel like it”. Call that friend you slammed the phone on because she said something you didn’t agree with. Buy your colleague a box of chocolates, even though you think he’s probably out to get your job when you’re on leave. Visit your neighbour with some cake, even if he’s perpetually grumbling about your dogs.

Amidst all the socialising that New Year’s Eve brings with it, comes the backdrop of resolutions and alterations that need to be made right at the onset. The inevitable anticipation of change right around the corner and the expectation of all things new, make 2016 begin with well-intentioned dreams and aims.

However, as surely as there’s a sunrise every day, there’s just a fifty per cent chance we actually follow through with plans thus made.

Here’s an idea to make those resolutions work, an idea that stems from the importance of making amends that sometimes surpass the importance of being earnest; much more than a trivial issue for serious people. This is where any regrets of the days gone by, if not addressed immediately, could fester into burdens for a lifetime. As Louise Smith said, “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.”

One day at a time

Making amends is easier said than done. Easier for Taylor Swift to send Ed Sheeran a bottle of jam saying “I’mma let you finish, but this is the best jam of all time!” than to have a ‘real’ conversation with Mr West himself.

Make a quick list of people with whom you need to make amends, relationships that need fixing and things you could do better. While it is rather impossible to forgive some people — for instance, Bernard Madoff, the infamous US fraudster, especially if you were a victim in his Ponzi scheme — look at the smaller things you can do to stay free from the burden of disappointment and dislike that weighs us down. Forgiveness shows strength of character and helps us travel the journey of life comfortable and light.

Sreekanth R speaks of how it’s so easy to take people for granted. “I vow that in 2016, I’m going to start my day with a compliment, by saying something nice to somebody I see everyday. By refusing to get irritated on my drive to work, saying thank you to the doorman who opens the door at office, by thanking my wife for the lunch she wakes up early to pack and by not snapping at my son when I get back home tired.” Now, that’s some start!

Acknowledge that in whatever ways, big or small, 2015 has been a good year and the fact that the next year can only get better. Aim for a new year filled with hope and good cheer. Let’s aspire to combine happiness with healthy relationships. Let’s teach our children lessons in making amends, let them take cues from how they see their family live in harmony and respect.

It’s easy to act on an impulse. And regret at leisure. In 2016, let’s not take the easy way out. Let’s not be mean, or hurtful, or indifferent to others. Let’s nurture the relationships we already have and lay the foundation for more meaningful ones in the people we meet. Let’s make more amends. And, really, 2015, “I’mma let you finish!” on a happy note.

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