Most parents and kids are familiar with the discipline technique affectionately known as the “timeout.” A child misbehaves and is sent to the timeout chair to think about their behavior and usually can only resume their normal activities when they apologize for their misbehavior and are able to articulate to their parents what they have learned from their time in isolation. Seems like we’ve all been sent to timeout.
So, here’s my apology.
- I apologize for taking for granted the full shelves at my grocery store.
- I apologize for not appreciating a handshake.
- I apologize for complaining about anything my child’s teacher ever said or did.
- I apologize for not utterly relishing sitting in a church or a movie theater or a restaurant with crowds of other people.
- I apologize for standing in lines and ignoring the people around me.
- I apologize for not appreciating good health.
- I apologize for being the selfish, overfed, under-grateful, unappreciative person I so often am.
- I apologize for not absolutely loving all the simple, everyday gifts I was blinded to before I was sent to this timeout.
And here’s what I’ve learned:
- I’ve learned that life can turn on a dime and I need to be thankful for every day.
- I’ve learned that we are not really in as much control over this life as we once thought.
- I’ve learned that slowing down should be a pattern in my life and not a punishment.
- I’ve learned that if my hope is in this world, then I will eventually be disappointed.
- I’ve learned to be nicer to people, especially those who regularly experience isolation.
- I’ve learned we may need each other a little more than I was once thought.
- I’ve learned I can get by without some things that I thought were indispensable.
- I’ve learned that I need to treat every day as a gift that has a 24-hour expiration date with no returns or refunds.
I am not enjoying this timeout but, after all, timeouts are not meant to be enjoyed. They’re meant to make us think. To reflect. To change. To become better people. And if that happens, then maybe this timeout is exactly what we need.