Guilt is heavy

I stepped outside of my apartment to head to an afternoon cooking class and I was overtaken by a sudden sensation of weightlessness.

I stopped moving.

And I took it all in.

It’s super hot where I am right now, in the lull of summer where the heat settles in and the breeze is lazy and asleep. The trees are a subtle green; even traffic at noon is muted; we’re in the South and it’s the weekend. No one is in a rush.

I am not in a rush.

I’m going to a class, but it is not an obligation. Sure, I paid for it, but if the mood suited me, and I turned myself right back around and went right back to my air-conditioned apartment and decided to take a nap on the sofa, there is no one there to make me feel bad about that decision.

And if I decided to keep going, this wasn’t one thing crammed into a day of many more things. I had already woken up and lazed around in bed for a bit. I had taken a long shower. I’d watched a few episodes of a new series on Netflix. I had stopped at the market to pick up DayQuil tablets. I was meandering towards my car with enough time on the clock for me to drive below the speed limit.

I was not in a rush. I am no longer, ever, in a rush.

When you drive slowly, you can keep the windows open, and it’s soothing. The wind feels nice in your hair and across your face. When your schedule is set based on actual needs, and not obligations and wants and other people’s wants, there is always enough time to do everything and then some. A four hour cooking class in the middle of a Saturday afternoon? When I was back in NYC: never. Now? Whenever.

I never noticed how heavy my obligations sat upon my shoulders. To where I couldn’t even enjoy a summer’s day and not wonder who would be calling for me next, or what I had to do next, or what I was missing getting done, etc., etc. And when I didn’t do something or procrastinated or just put it off, how miserable that made me feel because then it was added to a pile that I already toted around like an overburdened pack animal.

When you drive slowly, you can keep the windows open, and still hear yourself think.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? To answer text messages immediately. To empty our inboxes. To post appropriate photos. To do everything right (the first time). To [blank]– Why? Where does that pressure come from? And how do you make it stop?

I think the answer is different for everyone. I know mine. I also know that I don’t feel it anymore: I don’t feel guilty anymore, about anything. Not because I don’t care and not because I don’t have things I must do, but because I’ve become selective.

These are my choices, what I choose to obligate myself to and not. It is in my control and that makes all the difference.

I have chosen not to be guilty anymore. It’s great.
(When you drive slowly, you can breathe)

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