Atonement

“The evil that men do lives after them;
the good is oft interred with their bones.”

–William Shakespeare


a·tone·ment

/əˈtōnmənt/

noun
  1. Reparation for a wrong or injury.
  2. Reparation or expiation for sin.

There’s just something about the MCU movies that deeply appeals to me.

First of all, if you haven’t seen any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, you’re seriously missing out. Sorry Star Wars, but you’re no longer my favorite dynasty of films. The Marvel movies are amazing. And I think I gravitate toward them because of a common recurring theme: A person’s deepest flaw can become a person’s greatest asset. In many (but certainly not all) cases, the Marvel characters begin the tale of their existence with a few (or many) detriments with which they either struggle or bask (or both, in the case of Tony Stark). But as their sagas progress, they transform their trials into triumphs by using their weaknesses as strengths.

There is no way I will ever be able to heal the wounds of all the people I’ve hurt. I have apologized to everyone I possibly can and, when possible, have made amends. However, there is only so much a person can do for someone they’ve hurt. Some wounds don’t heal easily, if at all.

And yet, I still feel a need to do — something. I saw a quote once that said, “The best apology is changed behavior.” And in my world, that is probably the most poignant phrase I’ve ever seen. For too many years, I lived a horrible life as a horrible person doing horrible things. And in all reality, there is nothing I can do to change any of it; the best atonement I can offer is to move forward as a better person, doing what I can to prevent others from making the choices I made. I can’t heal the wounds of those I’ve betrayed, but perhaps I can prevent someone else from betraying others. Or, at least, that’s my prayer.

I had a great life, and I lost it. And I blame no one but myself. Perhaps that is one of my paramount struggles; I am continuously comparing the life I have now to the life I had then. Perhaps each has its pros and cons, but I can’t help but long for the life I lost. I know I’ll never get it back; I know I’m branded for life. But for me, merely existing is not good enough — I need to be doing something to try to make everything right.

And yet, I know this endeavor is infinite — my Infinity War.

George Orwell wrote in the novel 1984, “The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous.” Indeed. I know my atonement will never have a “finish” or a “completion,” but that does not mean I will merely give up and do nothing. As I see it, I owe it to the people I’ve hurt in the past to help prevent others from being hurt in the future.

I’m not a bad guy, I’ve just made some bad choices. So now, the best thing I can do is take my downfall and use it for the betterment of others. In a way, I am avenging my own past.

So if anyone wonders why I wrote After 3PM or why I give speeches, that’s why.

Atonement.

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