Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Guilty, Guilty

July 16, 2005

Sometimes we read things and realize that we’re not alone. My friend is doing an amazing job raising a really great kid, and yet she staggers under a load of guilt. Ironically, I feel guilty that my life doesn’t resemble hers more closely.

She writes eloquently and evocatively about guilt, wondering if she’s alone (absolutely not) and if constant guilt is a sign of low self-esteem. I think not. If anything, having a higher self-esteem and higher expectations of ourselves allows us to see many more of the needs around us. The person who is looking out only for themselves is not so plagued with guilt. So we’re guilty either way: guilty of having low expectations, or guilty for having high expectations.

My post of several days before envisions a day when swords and spears will be obsolete. The part of that passage I’ve never noted before is that picture of contentment, “they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees..”. So I realize that for that utopia to come, people will need to be content with a just a seat, a vine, and a tree. I’m not. I know a few people who are, but they are rare. Folks who actually desire a lower salary so that they don’t have all of the hassles and obligations of money. Folks who are very happy to live in very simple homes, and eat very simple food. But that’s not me.

And then I saw this great show, 30 Days, where they visited a kind of commune where people endeavor to have zero impact on the planet. They grow their own food, compost their own crap, bathe every few days, leave animals to themselves, and (when necessary) drive cars fueled by french-fry oil (a plentiful resource in Missouri, apparently). I watch all of this, and I’m fascinated. But will I live any differently? Maybe one percent, for about one week. Will I feel guilty? You betcha.

Sometimes I think, something’s got to give. I either need to take the shine off of my idealism, or start living into some of my high hopes. In the meantime, I’ll just have a nice hot cup of guilt.

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