Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Infamous Kissing Cousins: Regret and Guilt

Quote of the Day:
One's real life is often the life
that one does not lead
~Oscar Wilde~

Current Local Weather:
Latent heat followed by gusto amounts of electrical activity
near the intersections of regret, shame and guilt.

Currently on my iPod:
Innocent Bones
"The Shepherd's Dog"
Bryan Sutton

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends,

They say, whoever they are, that regret is the worst enemy any one person can have in their lives. Worse than Hitler, worse than that Hussein dude and worse than its counterpart, guilt. I think some people truly think regret and guilt are kissing cousins, but they're not.

Wikipedia (if it's on there it must be true, right?) defines Guilt as:
...the fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense.[1] It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believesaccurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation.[2] It is closely related to the concept of remorse.

Nowhere in this definition of GUILT, does it talk about regret.

However...REGRET is defined as:

...a negative conscious and emotional reaction to personal past acts and behaviors. Regret is often expressed by the term "sorry." Regret is often felt when someone feels sadness, shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance or guilt after committing an action or actions that the person later wishes that s/he had not done or having not committed an action or actions that the person later wishes that s/he had done. Regret is distinct from guilt, which is a deeply emotional form of regret — one which may be difficult to comprehend in an objective or conceptual way. In this regard, the concept of regret is subordinate to guilt in terms of its emotional intensity.

Yet in the definition of REGRET, GUILT is mentioned. And not only is guilt mentioned, it's mentioned as a deeper form of regret than regret itself. Hmmm....

Question is: do you have to feel regret for the things you're guilty of?

Answer? I don't think so. For those of you who personally know me, you know I've been through an admitted amount of hell and back over the last few years. But I have survived it all. At least thus far, right? Tomorrow always has potential for failure and success in either mild or extreme circumstances. But they are only that...circumstances.

I was speaking with a friend this week who happens to be going through her own hell. She was lamenting on how she knew this would change her, and probably for the worst, but she was going to take it all in stride. That she had her REGRETS in everything, including her children...and felt, on top of it all, GUILTY for the issues that were solely hers but bleeding over into everyone else' lives.

I am not one to talk about having past issues or cheap knock offs of Louis Vuitton luggage sitting in my trunk...yeah, you heard me, I've got junk in my trunk...

(Tom, Meg...thanks for this lesson...)

But sometimes, even when the junk in our trunk is causing us to have to not only find, but accept, bigger britches than we're used to wearing, we must press forward knowing that a wider load isn't the end all be all of our lives. Take heed of what Tom and Meg did in that cinematic masterpiece JOE Vs. the VOLCANO...they didn't let their baggage sink them. Instead, they used it to stayed afloat and ultimately learned that sometimes staying afloat was more than a blessing, it was the key to their survival.

In my humble opinion, guilt is for those that have committed crimes and religious fanatics.

Regret, I'm afraid, is something that seems to be a part of everyone's baggage with guilt as its carryon at some point or another. But it doesn't have to own us. Coping techniques and various types of therapy can sometimes ward off these feelings when we're at our worst, but they generally aren't a long term cure. At least not an immediate one. You just can't let it own you and shape your life from here, I'm talking RIGHT NOW, on out. It has to be a "thing" in the past. Unless you've maimed another human being and/or have some brunette politicians daughter/rocker chick from the 80's in a deep well in your basement, forcing it to but lotion on its skin, let it go!

I've always thought that living with regret is something no one should have to do. Living with the feelings of guilt AND regret seem to be a self-inflicted punishment that harbors misery as its greatest asset and drug. Whatever you have done, it was meant to be done or done to you, for better or worse. I certainly have made my lion's share of mistakes over my so far short 34 years, but every one of them has made me stronger in some way or another. And that strength wasn't obvious, in any one of those lessons, at first or even at the five or ten year mark. It only became clear over time.

Am I saying this because I think I'm better than any of you? Absolutely not.

It's just too bad that as humans we take these things and let it go around in our minds, or our friend's minds, until we're practically paralyzed with the thought of whatever we did as our former selves. It's poison. This is when we need to be honeybadgers. Ya know, the crazy nastyass kind that don't give a f*** if poison is coming from their food. They just get back up and go on with their crazy ass, fearless ways. (although I highly recommend you keep your love and careful regard for your fellow man, unlike the honeybadger.
But these days, it's harder to keep our perspective than it used to be. I just have a strange feeling that we're all going to be honeybadgers before we know it. We're already eating poison, intellectually speaking, on a regular basis and having to get up and move on regardless...more on that in a later blog...Thanks Walt!)

So, when you're at your worst and think that this feeling will be your closest enemy for the rest of your life, think again. Let it, instead, keep you and everyone else afloat as a lesson learned instead of a weighted participle of grief on your shoulder. Remember, it, whatever it is, could have been worse.

You are worth the world. Always.

Yours in Honeybadgers, Honing in on the Future, and Housing Feelings in their Proper Place,


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The House is Burning

Quote of the Day:
Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver.
Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

~Richard M. Nixon~

Current Local Weather:
Rain. Yeah right.
Currently on my iPod:
Whataya Want From Me
Adam Lambert

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends,

Have you ever sat in a house, burning up in your own skin and wondering what the problem was? Has that house been yours? More often than not, it's been mine. I sit unaware that I'm the one with the floor burning beneath my feet, sweating, stinking up the whole town and waiting for rain or wind or the apocalypse/nuclear winter to cool things down. Where is my reality? Somewhere amongst the ashes, is my guess.

Yet these days the heat outside and in, is unbearable.

I've got issues with the following: (and who doesn't...)

Bills. (They just don't stop coming in, EVER.)

Love. (It was love at first sight, every time.)

Rest. (Break? Who? What? When? Do adults get breaks?)

There are some days I wonder if becoming an addict of some sort would help. I know it wouldn't help with a damn thing, but I do know that it might help strengthen my tolerance of such widespread feelings of impending doom.

But the bigger issue is how to really solve my other issues. I try. I try my very best to figure this out daily. But instead of resolution, I listen to music, write words in an orderly manner and allow the arts community to invade the very fiber of my being. I can't live without it. It's my life, my breath, my support, my family.

I recently had a woman of incredible power (albeit short lived...hopefully) in my life tell me to get a real job. (I could smell charred flesh all around me when she started in on her lecture, as I thought of my chosen profession as just that...a profession!) it hot in here or is it just me?

But it turns out, the majority of the 9-5 world doesn't consider anything having to do within the arts as work. I know. I've asked most the people in the world for their opinion. (Not most, just most of those I care to hear from) Yet without the arts, writing, painting, dancing, Glee etc...we would be trapped in a burning house, oblivious to the colors the world has to truly offer. Most folks don't give a rat's butt as to how the arts get to where they currently are (youtube vs Julliard vs American Idol) they just know that they're always there for use and abuse.

A good friend of mine by the name of Bryan Pedas recently commented on my blog that he was blissfully happy writing 8 hours a day for no money now that he quit his "real" job. Bryan writes some of the best fiction I've ever I have to ask this, if there weren't Bryan's and other folks that aspire to be the Rachel Berrys and Adam Shankmans of the world, where would we be? I have the feeling that we would be lifeless drones and clones of folks like this guy:

(I will be the first one to admit that I'd never like to have the ACTUAL job or be the ACTUAL person portrayed by Steve Carrell on The Office, I will gladly take on the roll of Mr. Carrell's ACTUAL wife.)

So before you criticize and condone another person's life or their chosen artsy-fartsy occupation, ask yourself this, where would you be without them and their art? You wouldn't be reading this. You wouldn't be listening to the Warblers sing "Somewhere Only We Know" because there wouldn't even be a group known as Keane. And you most certainly wouldn't be able to laugh at your cubical hell through shows like The Office. Some of us are perfectly happy with having little to no money or helping represent those with little to no money. Deal with it. It's our life, not yours.

For the artsy fartsy folks who read this, I think you should go ahead and let the house crumble around you, all the while making sure you've got a gaggle of survival supplies waiting just in case you too are found with your feet burning.

Yours in Work, Well-Done Flesh and Waking up,