“I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure.” ~ Anaïs Nin
Saturday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40’s.
Well, the world didn’t end. Boehner didn’t get his Plan B. Westboro creeps were kept from grandstanding at Sandy Hook funerals by Hell’s Angels. And the NRA didn’t disappoint in the “We Know You are a Bunch of Myopic Assholes” category by suggesting that having guns in schools would keep violence out of schools.
Yep. The world continues to turn on its axis, and the inherent stupidity of people marches on.
Heavy sigh . . .
My other boy dog Alfie is dying. We used to refer to him as Mr. Muscle because of his swagger; he walked like a European body-builder in a Speedo. And I am once again filled with guilt because I know that I have not loved him as much as I loved Shakes, but I have loved him still, in spite of the fact that he’s psycho and goes off at the drop of a hat. How to resolve the guilt and the anguish? Probably not possible, nor should it be as it never is.
“I have no confidence in myself and great confidence in others. I need love more than food. I stumble and make errors, and often want to die. When I look most transparent is probably when I have just come out of the fire. I walk into the fire always, and come out more alive.” ~ Anaïs Nin
And because I am bereft and gloomy, I have chosen to populate today’s post with quotes from Anaïs Nin. You’ll forgive me, I hope.
Guilt is an insidious creature. It compels us to make bad decisions, to pursue avenues we would under different circumstances never trod. Guilt wipes from our consciousness any semblance of logical thinking. Its tentacles wrap themselves around our cerebellum and squeeze until the frontal lobe is incapable of choosing between good actions and bad actions.
Guilt resides within the brain but is born in the heart, where it develops on a continuous diet of losses and betrayals. Guilt is weaned on slights and slurs, and it festers on perceived injustices and imagined iniquities.
Guilt dusts the edges of every planned revenge and gilds each false sentiment that leaves our lips.
Guilt is perhaps the progenitor of imbalance in the heart, the mind, and the soul because it works against the Aristotlean Golden Mean. It is impossible to ride the middle when consumed by guilt, and so we fall prey to extremes.
“I think life tragic, not comic, because I have no detachment. I have been guilty of idealization, guilty of everything except detachment. I am guilty of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe.” ~ Anaïs Nin
If I had to choose one overriding emotion to define my life, it would most certainly be guilt:
- I have not done enough
- I have not loved enough
- I have loved wrongly
- I have lived cravenly
- I have put myself before others
- I have not considered myself enough
- I have not considered the consequences
- I have been paralyzed into inaction by the possible consequences
- I have hidden behind false modesty
- I have worn the cloak of aggression
- I have watched when I should have acted
- I have acted when I should have watched
- I have proclaimed impartiality when it has not existed
- I have decided when I should have bided
“I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself.” ~ Anaïs Nin
And no, this is not a timely post for the holidays. I know that, and I would apologize, but that would be unseemly as I am not at all certain that I would be sincere.
I am sorry if you have come here expecting folderol (falderal) and instead were met with oblique attempts at rationality. I have no control over the trails my mind will take on any given day, or even at any given hour. The term flighty is especially fitting on days such as these.
I began this post thinking about how the big Mayan prediction (or rather interpretation of the Mayan calendar) did not come to pass (as I never thought it would) and how life continued to march on inexorably, how the madness of our society continues to spiral, how the cheapness of a human life continues to be met with indifference. And then I alit on my other boy dog, which took me down an entirely different road, and unfortunately for you, that particular road is well-trod for me.
And so, I do apologize for that.
“I create a myth and a legend, a lie, a fairy tale, a magical world, and one that collapses every day and makes me feel like going the way of Virginia Woolf. I have tried to be not neurotic, not romantic, not destructive, but may be all of these in disguises.” ~ Anaïs Nin
And so Christmas will be here in three days, and I am completely without the sense of wonder and delight that I hope to capture each year, which makes me wonder when I will grow up and realize that life is simply what is and not what may be.
And in spite of my misgivings, I will plant a smile upon my face come Christmas morning, and somehow, I may be able to move from a false face into a real one, if I can just let go of my guilt long enough.
You must wonder how someone such as myself can possibly move through life, how someone paralyzed by deep emotions can traverse the minefield that is life, and my reply is that I try, and on some days, I succeed, and on others, not so much, and today is a not so much day, but life insists on being attended to, so I will leave this page in a moment, and I will spend the next several hours wrapping presents in beautiful paper and adorning those packages with ribbons and bows because that is what I do, and I hope, I really and truly hope, that I can forget about myself for a while.
More later. Peace.
All quotes are taken from a December 1946 letter from Anaïs Nin to Harper’s Bazaar editor Leo Lerman who had asked Nin for a short auto-biography to use in a profile feature. She declined. (as found on Brain Pickings)
Music by Ane Brun, “The Light from One”
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
~ Robert Hayden