Guilt

I listen to an MP-3 audio clip in German re Kerouac & Ginsberg, posted on FB by Michael (Kellner). I can understand it intermittently, it makes a good background to these reflections.

As K said goodbye on his way back to work from his lunch break, he said “indulge yourself in some way – go to a spa for instance if you feel like it.” (that’s a fairly good paraphrase, I don’t remember the exact wording). Ha, the tears commenced at that, though I don’t think he noticed – I’m getting good at hiding tears, from the kind of practice over the years you get if you cry ridiculously easily – My first thought had been, I can’t afford to indulge myself, I’m out of money; & I thought, why am I feeling so sorry for myself? And then I thought, “I don’t know what indulging myself is, I don’t do that, I don’t allow that, I have too much work to do, I – and suddenly I realized that, along with the easily recognized & acknowledged anger, I’m feeling a huge guilt over not getting this job, as if it was a personal failing. Possibly it has been a personal failing to not qualify for hire at a wide range and quantity of purported employment opportunities, but I hadn’t realized how much guilt I was feeling over it. Over everything, it seemed right then. I hadn’t noticed that that was one thing weighing me down, a major thing, in fact. It was suddenly clear that I felt compelled to make up for it in some way before I could feel good again.

What bullshit – as if feeling bad were going to fix anything. Totally contrary to my philosophy of life, which might be crudely characterized in part by the convictions that (1) if you’re not making mistakes, you aren’t learning; and (2) when you make a mistake, the useful response is not to feel bad about how dumb/incompetent/slow etc. you are, but to figure out how to do it right. That’s not actually how I was raised, however, so that may be why I have had such difficulty consistently practicing it, now that I think about it.

Of course, that last phrase (“now that I think about it”) is blatantly misleading. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about it; on the contrary, I’ve devoted probably large pieces of my consciousness to trying to figure this out, and live it. Such the stubbornness of the human psyche.

Also published as private.

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