Yet which one of us has not put our foot in our mouth, metaphorically of course (I personally lack the flexibility). The expression is apt, the feeling of saying too much and regretting it is foul and awful as an experience.
Is it not a delight, however, the power that this emotion carries?
I understand if you’re not on the same page yet, bear with me.
Of all the stupid things I’ve done it’s the ones with the most awful consequences that I was least likely to repeat. Take the time I fell six feet off the top of a skate park jump and landed on my hip: the resulting monstrous bruise and month-long soreness made me forever think twice about using my bike in the rain.
Now it is folly to suggest with this subject matter alone that this form of regret or learning is “delightful”.
Do not worry! The plot thickens when it comes to our human relationships.
As a waiter I witness daily how my actions affect others in a very real, fast paced environment.
One corny, ill-timed joke can put a funk on the client-waiter relationship indefinitely (or until they leave at least).
I have learned through repetition and by “putting my foot in my mouth”, what to say to what types of customers, and when to just keep my mouth shut, put the ketchup down, and walk away without a sound.
Fine and dandy, but aside from making good tips, no delight yet.
What about when it comes to those we love dearly?
To the mamas and papas, to the lifelong friends, to the brothers and sisters we hold so dearly?
Suddenly the taste of our foot takes a powerful meaning, and most important of all, a message.
As passionate, emotional beings it is easy to get our minds wrapped entirely around some agenda or topic. Through our passion blindness comes, and through this blindness a lack of capacity to interpret the responses we receive from others with accuracy.
Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows that when this state takes over all pandemonium breaks loose. Everyone is fighting for their point of view and no one understands the responses that are coming back.
Misconception leads to further mutual stubbornness, so on and so forth.
Usually, if calmer minds prevail, clarity returns, and with it more than likely a burning unpleasant feeling in the gut: what did I just say… what an idiot I have been.
In this moment however we grasp two very critical things: the importance of the other person to ourselves and the gravity of the fact that our words and actions profoundly affect the life of the other.
It is why the foot tastes most wretched when we hurt the ones who are closest.
Recently I have had a hearty taste and I can’t say that I like it.
In this state, however, my love for those I have offended has grown because my awareness of them has grown.
In accepting this pain, the tumult of humiliation, I am learning to take more seriously my relationship with the other, to cherish and to speak more carefully next time.
It is somewhat curious that although we all experience the pain and effect of others’ words, it is often a long and difficult road to realise how powerful our own words are.
Here at last is the delight.
The power of our words may be realised through acknowledging that we have used this power poorly.
In the same breath we may come to know that through this power comes the awesome capability to express our love, sorrow, forgiveness, and apologies. Our words may become a resting place, a refuge for a burdened soul.
So next time you find your foot in your mouth savour it a bit and meditate upon the reality you are living in. Know that it hurts because you are being called higher, to love more deeply! Take hold of the realisation that your words deeply affect those around you, and use it for good.