Guilt & Its Brethren
Guilt—that's the word that stuck in my mind towards the end of yesterday's post about gardening and how I never feel guilty about "having gardened." There's nothing suspect about it. I don't fear being criticized for gardening or even feeling somewhat compelled to have at it some more. Though I suppose, like anything, one could go overboard and do it too much. But even then, what would be so bad about that? An overly tidy garden? Other areas neglected?
As my dear old dad (and likely everyone else's dad, dear or otherwise) used to say, "If you eat anything to excess, you'll make yourself sick, get fat, or something ..."
I've slipped away from gardening, haven't I? Segued straight into the realm of eating, eating to excess more precisely. Why? I suppose because when it comes to guilt, guilty pleasures, remorse, regret and all those kindred sentiments, it's so often about food—about eating too much of it, eating the wrong things at the wrong times.
So what about guilt? Why do some things trigger guilt and others don't?
Different shades of yuck, of feeling wrong for having done what you've done or not done, been who you've been or not been. For me, much of it comes back to the body: all five flavors of yuck are bound up in a sticky ball of how I feel about my body, about I show up (physically) in the world, what I've done with and to my body.
Geez. What a depressing load of horse shit. And really horse shit isn't all that depressing or even stinky in that gross revolting way. But a depressing load of human shit, that's just disgusting. So horse shit it is, or manure, cow patties, road raisins, turds, scads of scat, flecks of herbivore feces.
Yeah, yeah, I said I'd write and post every day for 30 days and I only made it 3 days before I broke the chain. But I'm choosing not to consider this another broken promise. Because each day I wrote and accomplished some stuff I felt good about.
Wednesday—started on the guilt crap above and worked on my pages for a workshop in mid-October. In the evening, I facilitated a two-hour adult write session. I didn't manage to get any writing done that was all that satisfying, but the other folks on the Zoom wrote some amazing stuff and the sharing was good. I felt good about "holding a safe space" for the writing, sharing and sense of community. I did good. Writing adjacent mostly, but worthwhile and generous nonetheless or more-the-less (a not-a-word that should be).
Thursday—worked all the way through my workshop piece, which is (at least at this point) Chapter 2 of the new memoir I'm working on and determined to finish without too much time and hand-wringing. The Reluctant Artist, Redux, though it won't be called that. The Ever After—that's the current working title. More drivel about my dad and how I don't think he cared much for me, and yeah, but more than that too.
Friday (today)—edited and revised pages for upcoming workshop and now consider it done, done, good to send out (good enough). Also began working on presentation for an AWA retreat in two weeks and went into the "office" (916 Ink) for the first time in a long, long time—to put materials together for the classes I'll be co-leading this coming semester. 4th grade and 6th through 12th. I feel more confident than in the past about writing with kids (and groups in general)—I've done it all enough now, that it feels natural (almost, most of the time) and something I know I can do and do well, so no need to get all worked up and over-prepared.
So yeah—some actual writing and plenty of writing adjacent, in a good, not time-wasting or foolish way.
Even though I rolled three days into one, the commitment is doing what I'd hoped it would. I am more connected with writing and what I want to work on. Gathering momentum!
Boat load of aerobic gardening too. My arms are scratched from grappling with bushes. My nose full of moldy leaf dust and my skin itchy with allergens from a dozen garden denizens. The neighbors must think I'm a crazy woman. Sweating, red in the face, covered with leafs and bits of dirt and spider web. Determined to finish what I've begun, when with a wild, overgrown garden like ours, there is no finishing, only parsing out one bush to tackle, one patch of ground cover, one corner to weed, prune and clear to my satisfaction.
I'll say it again. I gardened my ass off and I'm not sorry; I don't feel guilty, embarrassed, or any of that lot. Just tired and achy, and scratched up.
Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.