Monday Musings 208 - Matters of guilt
I don’t remember feeling guilty much of my life. This does not obviously mean that I have nothing that in normal circumstances for normal people would evoke guilt. There have been many such instances which do qualify as definitive cases for making a man feel guilty. However guilt, like many other things as beauty, love, revenge and spite, lies in the bosom of the beholder - and so when it came to the choice of feeling guilty for a misdemeanor, I have usually chosen the easier and better path of brushing it aside as an essential part of coming of age ritual, very conveniently overlooking that 35 plus is not really an age when one is still growing up. If it was to happen, it should have happened long back. Hope however remains the culprit. The last time I felt guilty was back in the third grade when buoyed by the spirit of friendship I had considered a friends eraser as mine, claimed it so with nonchalance and was dumb enough to get caught.
So this time, when after ages when the damn thing called guilt did raise its serpentine head, I was surprised that its vestiges were still alive. So here is my discovery about guilt. To begin with it is clear that it is a very very bad thing.
Amongst the many human emotion which are of same family as guilt, such as possessiveness, grief, jealousy, and anger, I would rate guilt as the deadliest. It is like diabetes mellitus - not really a disease, but a disorder that kills you slowly but definitively. It is almost as if it is enjoying the process of killing you, like you relish a dish in solitude. It only becomes worse with time. Like diabetes it does not kill in itself, but actually creates a shutdown in all other organs, particularly the heart. Having a heart in itself may be bad but a guilt ridden heart is much worse.
Guilt normally begins like a small cut and then it feeds on itself and it grows and grows. Soon you are engulfed into its octopus like grip, questioning your own sanity, worth and goodness. When one starts questioning his own goodness and realizes that his self score is a pathetic F, it is much worse that others giving it an F. It is precisely because of its degenerative effects that man created the science of justification and rationalization. It is just so much better to blame it on Rio, or Robert or Rahul. Why begin something that you know has only one end.
Guilt causes strange chain reactions. The prospect of loss of face robs you of sleep. Your ability to concentrate plunges faster than a stock index, resulting in complete inability to focus and stay calm. The foodies are hit even more as it results in loss of appetite.
There are only two potential lessons I learnt from this episode - don't do anything that might cause guilt or learn to justify it better. I know my lesson - what is yours?