I just read a poem by Judith Viorst (whom I adore) from a book of poems printed before I was born, full of cultural references that make no sense to me. I found it in a bookstore with shelves like this:
And now I must pause for a moment to tell you how much I adore a bookstore that stacks books like this. If you can’t find the cash register because of the piles stacked on the floor, that is my favorite!
Dig under that completely misfiled book on the third shelf there and maybe we can find and get back to my point. But let’s talk more about this another time, shall we?
One poem in Judith’s collection seems timeless and it’s knocking around in my brain. I won’t quote the whole thing but here is the last bit:
Where Is It Written? by Judith Viorst
Uh hu. What is that about?
The sickness business kinda makes you giggle doesn’t it?
The thing is, I am not really jealous of men – I don’t think they have it better and I don’t think anyone takes shoes to a shoemaker anymore (did they even in 1970?).
But the guilty part resonates doesn’t it? Please. The reason women are know for the “guilt trips” is because we live in guilt. We think we’re supposed to be doing something else no matter what we are doing. Even when we’re doing what we think we should be doing, we insert the guilt. I’m playing legos with my son, and I start to feel guilty because I should be enjoying it more. Good grief! It’s a tough way to live isn’t it?
I feel guilty about feeling guilty. And yes. I feel guilty about working. Just like all women. In yesterday’s post, I mentioned some of the choices I am making. I think we women would be a whole lot better off if we could accept our choices sans the guilt that comes from what we’re not choosing or from thinking we’re falling short.
But you see, even as I am giving you (and me) a lecture about not feeling guilty, I am feeling guilty about just eating three fistfuls of m&m’s. Why, oh why, do I keep buying m&m’s from Costco? And now I’m about to feel guilty for not getting on the exercise bike right this minute. Wow! I wonder what I’ll feel guilty about tomorrow?
The thing is… if feeling guilty were motivating, it might do us some good. I could sign off here and actually get on that exercise bike. But guilt isn’t motivating. The only thing it motivates is depression or a further spiraling of bad choice-making. There really is no upside to guilt.
So I’m giving it up.