Saturday, March 22, 2014


We all have them – the ones when it’s hard to believe we bring much good to the world, when accidentally driving over a bridge might not seem so bad.  It’s not a real desire – any more than the desire to kill off an inconvenient relative or spouse is, though we may have those ideas sometimes too.  And they make you ache the worst when something goes horribly wrong with no intent, no malice.  The thing you say wrong in front of someone who didn’t know crucial information, the moment you step on the cat after a hell of a long day and it just makes you feel like a horrible, horrible person – and the fact he’s so dear and forgiving and purrs up on you almost instantly only makes you feel all the more evil and guilty.

Remorse – I think it’s the most horrible feeling.  Remorse when I broke that vintage bakelite radio that my dad actually got to work when we were kids.  Remorse when the cat himself broke the most beautiful earthenware bowl, given to me by my best friend, a piece which had belonged to her singular, beautiful, beloved mother.  Remorse when someone I love is in pain and there’s nothing in my power that can possibly make it better.

Remorse carries the doom of sitting outside the principal’s office (I never sat outside the principal’s office, of course) with the desolation of helplessness, of powerlessness.  Remorse when you are alone is particularly sere and dessicating.

As you might guess, it’s been a stressful week, and I keep doing idiotic things like losing a knuckle in a cheese grater and getting frustrated at people because of miscommunication – and being mean about it.  I was mean to the cat and the dog both, for which there simply is never an excuse.  I can’t breathe well and keep having problems swallowing and/or choking.  My back’s been killing me for weeks, so I’ve neglected my home – it is a serious pigsty, and I’m running perilously low on socks at this point.  The sink is full both of clean *and* dirty dishes, and the dry leaves that blew in probably DAYS ago, I haven’t picked up nor even looked at twice, in the kitchen.  It’s a neglected house, and it’s the first sanctuary both of my worship, and of my stewardship in life.  It’s the concrete blessing I know I need to take care of, and lately, I just have not.  And, just as I did when I was a child, when I am clumsy and something goes wrong (a constant thing, for someone physically graceless as I), I sometimes, tantrum-like, throw it further and make things worse.  I miss the shoe rack putting away my shoes, I throw them at the back of the closet.  I have a problem taking care of some little task, I QUIT – because who can make me do it all, and who’s it going to hurt but me?

I pray every day, more than once, “may I bring satisfaction and joy.”  To my G-d, to my family and friends, in my work, to those who will someday read my novels, to strangers I just deal with in the routine of life, to X, for whom I have so little to offer really.  It’s not because I’m saintly in the least; rather, it’s because I’m selfish, and the way people make ME feel, who can do this thing for others – I want to make people feel like that.  I want to be the source of the kind of gratification *genuinely* nice people generate in others.  Yeah, morally and spiritually I certainly aspire to it.  But mostly it’s a self-oriented prayer.

And even knowing that, I still blunder into other people and make a mess of more than my stupid shoe rack.  And indulge in remorse, which is only more self-absorption.

Then I find myself driving toward home, cogitating on this post, a beautiful second day of spring, my windows open, Leonard Cohen singing with that inimitable, unhurried cadence – and he says to me, “forget that perfect offering.  There is a crack, a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”

The older I get, the better I am at recovering from remorse’s drama and compulsion and license, to spend attention upon my tender, all-important expectations.  The only way to get past it is gratitude – and nobody can say my life is not abundant with blessings for which to be grateful.  I’m many things, good and bad, but I am humbled at the people who put up with me.  And, at the end of the day – if I don’t get on with things, that house will fall apart around my ears (and even I am not so dramatic as to hope for that).

And, if I don’t get on with things, the estimable folk who take the time to care for me … will find reasons (and they’ll be valid) to be otherwise occupied.

1 comment:

Leila said...

Hopefully this week has started better. You are fabu-mazing! {{{HUGS}}}