Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do. – Voltaire
As a recovering perfectionist, I know a thing or two about guilt.
This morning, as has occurred occasionally in recent weeks, I woke to the smell of meat cooking. As I have related already, I broke my fast a little more than halfway long as intended, but my spouse fasted right through to this morning as she had planned. And what better way to break a fast, she decided, but to have a couple slices of bacon with a fried egg. We both enjoyed a little breakfast with bacon Wednesday morning. Apparently, my spouse had another night trouble staying asleep as she had time to do some laundry, make some bacon, do a little exercise and get in some morning prayers by the time I woke.
After being married seventeen years to a woman with insomnia, both having health issues, my hating the commute for the last ten years, and juggling the usual life challenges, I am only infrequently swayed now by any sort of guilt. After raising three young men, five dogs, three cats, and a briefly, one bible-nibbling chinchilla, it’s not guilt about time spent with family, nor friends, dogs, or participation in my church. All those we were actively engaged in.
It’s that feeling which some parents guilted into their kids, about the hard work that went into cooking. We may have not seen hours of housework on top of careers, but everyone has heard of kids starving in Africa. Most still have no guilt about avoiding the liver, brussel sprouts or asparagus. Sometimes it was taking the leftovers for lunch so they “didn’t go to waste”. Our kids were always on the go in their late teens so they often weren’t sitting down at the evening meal. Somehow my boys never heard about starvation in Africa, so they rarely ate food once it went from the pot to the refrigerator.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ― Marcus Aurelius,
I no longer care about food in that way. I am appreciative when my wife cooks or bakes or cleans in the wee hours. But we both have been striving to put food-guilt and diet -guilt, and the not-sleeping or napping on the weekend-guilt where it belongs, on the curb for trash day.
Yet I cannot shake one type of guilt. Even if experts tell me it is not a “thing”. The “we haven’t seen you all day, take us for a long walk” guilt when I just want a little down time from the evening commute.
And that’s okay.