Archive for October, 2009

I’m sorry

Last weekend I edited a paper for Elayna on Margaret Atwood’s poem Variations on the word Love. The sentiment of the poem rang true to me – the word love is overused. It means nothing and everything. Nonetheless it still holds meaning to me,  unspoken emotion filling it as much or as little as it needs to.

The discussion, however, resonated with the way I’ve been feeling about the phrase I’m sorry. Our language is bereft of any useful descriptive phrases to say when you wish someone did not have to deal with something. We say I’m sorry no matter what the issue. I’m sorry you don’t like your job. I’m sorry your child doesn’t fit in at school. I’m sorry your pet is sick. I’m sorry your dad died last night. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

I say it myself, quite often. My meaning varies, my words do not.

Does it matter? Most of us can tell what someone means when they say it. I try not to say it without saying other things that convey the depth (or lack thereof) of my meaning.

I do think there are times it matters. I wish I had something truer, something more emphatic to say when someone has lost somebody they love. I’m not just sorry for them then, I’m aching for them, I’m mourning for them, I’m fearful for them, I want to hold them and comfort them. I want to pour my strength and love into them and stop them from falling apart. But to say all of that is to cheapen it, if anyone else is reading it. I wonder if that’s why we’ve started to say I’m sorry for everything.


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