Guilt is anger directed at ourselves*

Porn (not his real name), an eminent doctor of veterinary medicine (and a pretty good rugby winger), once said, “Animals do it and don’t think it wrong.”

When sleep escapes me in the night and fretting takes its place, I think about Porn’s words and wonder why every human activity holds the potential for thinking it was wrong, it wasn’t good enough — and finds a way to twist itself into feelings of guilt.

We all set ourselves up for guilt by setting standards. Some of them get codified: the Ten Commandments. Never tell a lie (not much leadership from the top on that one lately). Drive the speed limit and pay the tolls in Illinois (or they fine you $80). Do unto others . . .

We keep to ourselves other rules to live by, but they remain standards and expectations we think we should live up to as well as by. Write a blog post every day (not much leadership here on that one lately). Never a lender or a borrower be. Ride the Chilly Hilly.

There it is. The truth will out. All these words to admit I said I would ride the Chilly Hilly and got up this morning to a sky full of rain and snow and fell back into bed.

All day I have fretted over how I would live with this, how admit that I had not the mettle to pedal 33 miles through cold, wet air or brave the chili at the end of the ride.

Exercise is a wonderful thing. If you do it. Not so good if you said you would and then you don’t. That’s a perfect setup for guilt.

In the guilt department, you’d be better off being that 400-pound hacker who never had a notion to set himself in motion.

I applaud those who ventured out for the ride around Bainbridge Island today. And I promise to be faithful to all the other things I said I would do this year (STP, RAGBRAI, OATBRAN, cut back on carbs, RESIST and many other Madcap Schemes).

And I promise to perform penance suggested by a Catholic friend: A polar plunge next year on the day of the Chilly Hilly (all faiths welcome).

And now, before I get back to fretting over the really, really rotten things I have done and should be worried about, I come before you to confess – in words I never thought I would say:

I have become a fair-weather bike rider.

The utter shame.

*Peter McWilliams

One thought on “Guilt is anger directed at ourselves*

  1. You have found my large bag of guilty expectations and now I should (but probably won’t) clean the bag out. Some of the items in the bag deal with exercise and nutrition and others deal with “recycling” items in the house and garage. Thanks, John, for opening this can of worms. We have over an inch of snow this morning and we leave for a couple of softball tournaments in 2 days. So I feel the need to procrastinate …. again!

    Like

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