I made a vow the other day. The vow was that I am going to stop feeling guilty. I truly, by this stage in my life, want to cease being Charlie Brown. There’s no future in it.
You might be driven to ask, what has a fine fellow like Ian got to feel guilty about. The answer, simply, is EVERYTHING! That’s preposterous, I can hear you saying. Nobody can feel universal guilt. OK, I don’t, it’s just that sometimes I feel that way. It’s a kind of gnawing in my gut that doesn’t permit me to, at any time, fully relax, just in case there is something I’ve neglected to do. Just in case I get found out for some transgression I’ve forgotten about – as in, oh yeah, that!
Now I feel guilty because I used two exclamation marks in that last paragraph. Kind of a stylistic taboo, that is. I also did a word entirely in upper case. That is truly despicable.
The problem with guilt is, we in the West are culturally attuned to the idea of the fact we are born fuckups and therefore must spend a lifetime atoning. My issue with this is, I am tired of atoning. I don’t feel obliged any longer to make amends to anybody. Screw ‘em. Get over it folks, and I’ll move on, too. Wish I really felt that way.
I divide my guilt vault into two separate chambers: The big stuff, and the little stuff. Sometimes it’s the little stuff that’s the worst. I’ll get to that later.
Big Ticket Guilt Items:
– Having not been the most faithful husband (to state the case lightly) in my first marriage.
– Having not worked hard enough to make serious changes in me that might have made my 2nd marriage work a little more effectively. It might not have saved it, but it would have made the days (and nights) easier for both.
– Thinking I was a good stepdad and finding out I was a crappy one in the eyes of my SD.
– Not being able to muster any grief for my late mother.
– Having spent too much time looking at the world through the bottom of a glass (darkly). No longer the case, but I still regret it.
– Not having had sufficient courage to follow a couple of my dreams, though I did follow some other ones.
– Not going easily into semi-retirement, even if I have earned the right, I still feel I should be going out to work every day.
– Having lost connectedness with my extended family and telling myself I don’t care, even if I do.
– Having not worked on one of my yet uncompleted manuscripts on any particular day. How can I be rich and famous and knock Margaret Atwood off her $@& pedestal if I don’t quit procrastinating and get down to it. When Evelyn Waugh was writing ‘Brideshead’ he was turning out 3,000-plus words a day. I mean, he was still an asshole, but he did persevere and turned out a fine book.
– The Korean War. I don’t think I had anything to do with causing that, but you never know about these things if your guilt-quotient is high enough.
Little guilt items (these are the stupid ones that really get under your skin like nettles):
– Having left the seat up yet again.
– Not flossing at the level my hygienist recommends.
– Eating that last slice of cake when I know Rye-Krisp would be my sensible choice.
– Having the damn neighbor beat me at lawn cutting again.
– Detesting broccoli and expressing such a sentiment (maybe heatedly) but then wondering if my eschewing of it will lead to premature death.
– Eating absolute crap when Wendy is out-of-town on business.
– Feeling like I should have done ‘more’ at the end of any given weekend. I have no idea what but, you know, more.
– Writing a blog (like this) when I should be doing some ‘serious’ writing. The blog is much more enjoyable, but that’s no excuse.
– Having not gotten to the blogs of my favorite blog pals (like you) in order to read them and leave a comment.
– Really feeling I must call somebody but then refraining because, for some inexplicable reason, making the all seems that it will be too much work to bother doing so.
– Having not read all the great works of literature, and having only read the dirty parts of Joyce’s Ulysses, and knowing truly I will never complete those literary tasks. Somehow thinking many of my friends have read them all and they are secretly disdaining me.
– having untoward carnal thoughts about the pretty young thing checking out my groceries (whom I know fairly well) and forgetting the fact she is about 75 years younger than I am.
There are more, but now I am feeling guilty for spending too much time on this. No, wait, remember my vow. I don’t feel guilty – just a little uneasy. Give me time.