How a Nearly-Criminal Act was Transformed into an Experience of Love
Saturday night my roommates and I threw a party with some full band musical jams. Normally when we jam music in the garage, I make sure everyone stops at10pm to be respectful to the neighbors. They are saintly—they have never complained, despite daily three hour band practices for about four years. I try to give them the same respect. Normally.
This time, it was storming. It was raining so loudly that I could not hear the drums even when I was standing right outside the garage door. Fine, I thought, let the people keep playing. And so we did. Non-stop. It was still raining atmidnight, and 1am, so we kept playing. But around 3am I realized that the rain had stopped and now the drums were too loud. Yet I was too late—I walked toward the garage to get people to stop playing and a neighbor was already walking away. He had come over to ask us to quit. We immediately stop playing. I felt terrible!
I wanted to apologize the next day, but I did not want to face him. I was not even quite sure which neighbor it was. I knew we were in the wrong, and I appreciated that he had not called the cops. He was so friendly about it that I felt even more inadequate going over to tell him I was sorry. So I put it off.
The next day around 6pm, I knew I could not delay any longer. It was do or die. A two or three days later apology just did not make sense. I mean, it would be better than nothing, but the power decreased with each passing day. I wanted to apologize and I wanted to say thank you for coming over to talk to us personally instead of going the route of the police. I respected that decision. So I pushed past my misgivings and started the walk of shame.
My head hung low as I experienced the feeling of guilt—having done something I knew was disrespectful, careless, and selfish. I “should have” been a better neighbor and stopped the jams at 10pm like I normally do (yes, I’m quite guilt of time travel myself). I walked up to the neighbor’s door and knocked. John answered with his baby daughter in his arms. Oh the agony! I probably kept her up all night too!
“Hey, Jordan from Bryker. Just wanted to apologize for the music Saturday night,”
He interrupted me.
“I didn’t hear a thing, thanks for coming over though.”
“Oh, wow, that’s great.” My head lifted with my spirits.
“Yeah we slept through the night no problem; she didn’t even wake up.” He inclined his head at his baby daughter.
“Hi!” I gushed over the baby.
Wonderful! He was the neighbor that lives directly behind the garage, and he did not even notice the sound. How, I will never know [self-editor’s note: actually I think it was months of soundproofing the garage], but I gratefully walked to the next house over, certain that this was the guy. I knocked on the door, but this time my heart was lighter. He answered, and I knew it was the guy from Saturday night. I said the same spiel. He listened patiently as I apologized.
“You’re lucky I’m a good neighbor, because I could have called the police and they would have busted you guys big time,” he responded.
“Yes, I know and I’m so grateful that you came over yourself. You had every right to call the police and I have no excuses,” I told him.
“Well I appreciate you coming over here and apologizing. And I’ve lived here four years and never had any problems before,” he said.
Suddenly we were on the same side. In fact, he was thanking me for coming over to say I am sorry! My heart lifted and I apologized again. We talked a little while longer. He seemed totally heard and brushed it off like it was not a problem. We parted ways and continued on with the evening.
I will make sure to stop the full band jams at 10pm from now on, but more importantly I will remember that the dread of apologizing is far worse than the apology itself. For the apology is a way of me connecting into a love for the other person, and the human condition, and saying, “I’m sorry that what I did arose a feeling of being unvalued, disrespected, unneighborly; none of those things are true. I value you, I respect you, and I want to be a good neighbor.” It is a way of honoring the perception of affront while affirming the connection between us. And it is a very happy moment.
And what really is that perception of affront, but a cry for love? My apologies from now on will be, in addition to genuine apologies, a way of responding to a cry for love with love, instead of with fear. Instead of atonement for guilt, they will be celebrations of love.