'You know how it is with me, baby,
You know I just can’t stand myself.
It takes a whole lotta medicine for me
To pretend that I’m somebody else.’
- 'Guilty' by Randy Newman
I got back to the beach this week after some time away, and it was like everyone had got together and had a conversation about how they should be pissed at me for leaving soon. The weather is changing. Just like I could feel the angled bones of winter underneath the flesh of Autumn on certain November days, Spring swells under the surface of life like a stretched bladder.
There is no clearer evidence that humans are roiling internal creatures than guilt and shame. Why play when we should work? Why cheat when we should keep it straight? Why give in to the selfish, the cynical, the glutinous, the dishonest? You know the list. Why allow the comfortable but well-worn paths of habit to expose the wooded clearing where our weaknesses lie? Do we think so little of ourselves and this dumb, tremendous world that we have lucked into?
Why even ask these questions after the fact? As a PhD in the subject, let me tell you that there are all kinds of guilt, and there are all manner of feelings that we indentify as guilty. However, guilt’s defining emotion, I would say, is fear. What have I done? What if I fall apart? What have I lost? What kind of asshole am I to do that to someone else? What kind of an asshole am I to do that to myself?
How did I get here? This is not my beautiful anything. It’s five in the morning, and I am half-way up a high-rise in the old Confederate capital, drinking in coffeed streets milky with dawn. I’m frustrated by her dumb, snoring sleep, but that’s more to do with me than anything. I’ve been thinking about this page for what seems like months, and it has been starting to keep me awake. I even talked to my therapist about it. Why am I’m bored with this? Why do I find my words so interminably boring right now? How do I cross this ‘must-do’ off the list? What is the point?
He asked: ‘What emotions are you trying to avoid?’