Have you ever done something?
Of course you have; you've done lots of things.
But I'm talking about something unbearably stupid.
You've probably done it. Remember? That time where
...for some reason you weren't thinking straight...you were distracted...you were looking in the wrong direction...you misjudged a distance...
And then that sickening moment when you realize "Oh dear; I actually did that."
And then you're wishing that you could turn back the clock. Not years or months or weeks or days, but just a few seconds. Just a few. Like...five. Five seconds, that's all you ask. And this time your mind will be ordered, you will be paying attention, you will be looking in the correct direction, you'll reevaluate the distance...
But the world moves on relentlessly, and you're left picking up the pieces of that single, stupid act.
You look at the shattered pieces, glistening as they lie there, taunting you. You visualize the gathering crowds waiting to confront you, some angry, some sad, some comforting, some mixtures of them all.
And you hate yourself. If you had meant to do it it'd be different. You'd likely still regret it, but at least you'd experience some flash of satisfaction: you broke the pieces apart because you wanted to and you got your way. But you don't get that flash of satisfaction, however brief, because you never wanted those pieces there in the first place. It was just a dumb mistake.
You close your eyes, maybe trying to convince yourself those pieces are yet whole, maybe trying to evaluate your options, or maybe just trying to keep the tears back.
But when you open your eyes again, the onslaught has arrived. You don't know what's worse.
The angry ones: they're usually involved somehow. You know perfectly well what you've done was awful and you'd fix it if you could and, indeed, you'll fix it as best you can, AND IT DOESN'T HELP THAT THEY'RE ANGRY. And you're forcing down tears of frustration and helplessness. At least the barrage gives you something to focus on; things to answer; business to conduct, and this does help calm the rising flood.
Then the sad ones: the passerby. They see it happen, and they don't get involved, but they are sad that it happened and you can tell. Even worse is when the pieces broke in such a way that it would appear amusing to a passerby. You know it seems funny, but you are not in a laughing mood right now and despite their valiant attempts, you see their hands go up to cover their smiles as they turn away. Shame increases as the world witnesses the pieces fall at your feet. You try not to pay attention to them and hope they'll go away soon.
Lastly, the comforting ones. They're on your side. They know or believe that it was an accident and they try to comfort you, telling you that it's going to be okay. At their expressions of love and comfort, you finally break down. You're not sure what they interpret your tears as, but they likely see it as a mixture of any and all of shame, frustration, fear, guilt, and helplessness. And perhaps it is all those things, you're not sure. But somehow the overarching emotion is relief: that they still love you, that they're still on your side, despite what you've done.
But the final coming of the tears is perhaps the worst part; you know it's going to be okay. But right now is not the time to dwell in tears of relief at the fact that it will all work out, it's the time to be business-like and pick up the pieces.
The best of the comforters realize this and stoop to help.
Soon enough, it's all over. Time didn't screech to a stop just after you made your mistake, it kept going, as it always does, and always will, until God sees fit to put it to its final rest.
They've gone, all of them. The angry ones and the sad ones. The comforters are the last to go; they check that you're okay one last time before they too leave, sensing you wish to be left alone.
The tears that squeezed out in ones and twos while you were cleaning are a torrent now, and then you've cried yourself out.
And then with the calm that comes from a good cry, you see it as it is. A mistake. A very bad one, perhaps, but a mistake nonetheless. People still love you, and, most importantly, the action was not a purposeful one, so it was not evil. Unfortunate does not equal evil. Perhaps you smile a bit; it was somewhat funny. But the memory is still too raw and the smile disappears as quickly as it came. But you know you will laugh one day.
And as you sink into the deep sleep that comes after a crisis is over, it fully hits that it's actually okay.