choose or lose

December 15, 2010

Oh Creative One, an acquaintance of mine contracted a virus whilst pregnant with her daughter.  This virus has terrible consequences if contracted while pregnant, but appears to be nothing more than the common cold in children and adults. Her daughter now has physical disabilities and potential mental disabilities due to the exposure to this virus in utero. I also feel compelled to add, though why I’ve not figured out yet, that her daughter is a delight: curious about the world, kind in her communication, and a wonderful companion. My acquaintance says she feels guilty about contracting this rare virus. My advice to her was threefold. 1) As a parent, guilt is a part of the territory. I’d like not to feel guilty, but I will find something over which to feel guilty. 2) The work it would take to overcome something like guilt is long, hard and time consuming. A commitment I’m not ready for nor a goal I’m able to achieve while changing diapers or trudging with the kids to school in the middle of winter. 3) If I’m to have guilt and I’m not going to do anything about it, at least pick a topic to feel guilty over which you can control. So, instead of picking a rare virus already contracted and done its damage, pick to feel guilt over letting the kids go to bed after eating sweets without brushing their teeth. Or, pick to feel guilty about not helping with homework or losing your temper. These guilts can be corrected and in being corrected are not a waste of her needed parenting energy.

Guilty Creative One! I myself have guilt over my art just as my acquaintance does over her child. I feel guilty that I did not pursue it as an undergrad. I feel guilty that I listened to the practical voices of my parents instead of my strong inner voice. I feel guilty I have made many decisions out of fear until recently. But these are large viral things that can hurt my work. Better to follow my own advice and pick manageable guilts. Like choosing to watch television rather than cut out the paper window overlay for a picture I’m making for my son. I can feel guilty and then choose to correct that guilt the next night and feel much much better. Do not waste your energy on guilts over circumstances that have happened oh so long ago. I trust you did the best you could. Now, chose your manageable guilt and get back to work.


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