The man sat outside on the steps, dejected, his head in his hands. “When am I ever going to get it?” he thought.

Another senseless fight.
A foolish tit for tat, a he-said, she-said spat that escalated into a screaming match.
“Why do I always have to be right?” he asked himself for the millionth time. “As if I ever am…”

He rubbed his brow, stood up, opened the door to his car and drove to the office.
He couldn’t reach her now even if he wanted to. Maybe a little space…

Throughout the day he stared at the phone.
“Should I call? Should I buy flowers? Should I pick up a card?”
He wrestled with his inner voices, Mr. Justify versus Get-A-Clue, self-righteousness versus understanding.

He wondered how she felt. Though he longed to connect, he didn’t know how.
He agonized his way through a tormented, troubled afternoon.

Boy, can I relate.
At our house, Ali and I keep a big heart on a piece of paper taped to our living room wall. Outside the heart, we printed the words “hurt, frustrated, sad, angry” and others of similar ilk.
On the heart itself, we wrote “happy, caring, joyful, in love” and so on.

When our children throw tantrums, yell at each other or act out, we talk to them about the heart.
We strive to stay inside and return as quickly as possible when we stray.
We hug each other, melt the anger, smile and connect.

With young bundles of raw emotion, this works well. When it comes to more complex adults—well—we do our best.

I try to remind myself that no matter how legitimate, defensible or rational my reasoning, I cause only suffering by lingering outside the heart.
No one wins.
When I do, I wear the reward of heaviness—an anvil of dread and doom that colors everything a dark shade.

What a waste.
You’d think I would listen to my own counsel, follow my kids’ lead.
Why would I cling to such misery-inducing stubbornness?
Makes no sense.

Let me analyze this: apology or hang out to dry in a whirlwind of grief, distress and despair? Hmmmmm.

The man walked into his house and found her seated in the kitchen.
She glanced up furtively, then down again. He caught her baby doe eyes, the ones blinded by bright headlights, a mixture of fear, sorrow and disappointment.
A bolt shot through his chest.
“Wow. That hurts.”

He placed the single rose on the table, knelt on the floor and sought her gaze.
For an interminable moment he poured his life out to her.
Finally, he took her hand, squeezed it and spoke. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

For the first time in what seemed like forever, she smiled.

That’s A View From The Ridge…

Ridgely Goldsborough