This post is part of The Write On Project
In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. The day flows through me and I wash in all of my successes and failures. The successes rinse quickly but the failures leave me dirty. I am a writer so I must write. I must catalog the moments and divine the meaning and digest the lessons. But the moments that stick with me are the moments that leave me soiled. Bathing in the successes feels cheap and convenient. So I am left staring into the sanitized glow of the monitor, conjuring images of my disappointments, looking for the positive path down which my failures can lead me. And often feeling guilty.
In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. I know from sheer repetition who I am and what I am capable of. I also know what I am not. I have clearly defined roles that I have etched into my tiny square of this world and I have clearly defined expectations that I have stitched into these romanticized hats that I wear. I am a father and a husband, a friend and a son, a brother and a writer. Adjectives fly and adverbs follow and I build mountains. Carving my path upward, I invariably fall back as we all do, but I keep climbing. As we all do. I expect to divorce myself from my expectations, but I don’t live up to that expectation either. And I often feel guilty.
In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. Not long ago a thoughtful pop emerged to bear witness to my journey through love and fatherhood and complexity. Together, he and I are flourishing. I write, he speaks and people tell me how lucky and how wonderful and how proud. I write to write and to grow and to learn and, if we’re going to be honest, to connect and grow and “brand” (whatever that means for someone who doesn’t have a job). But, the funny thing is I’m writing about trying to be the best that I can for them – My Girls – and I am burning fuel to write that I could be burning trying to be the best that I can for them. My Girls. Not now, Lemon, Daddy’s got to write about what a great father I am. And I wonder why I often feel guilty.
I wake up every morning and drink coffee. I love that first sip of coffee. Hot and bitter. So black it reflects that perfectly flawed me that can’t wait to taste how harsh it just may be. In it I may taste how imperfect I am, I may taste the guilt born of my crags and inner divisions. Or I may taste the rich beauty of that harshness. I may taste the beginning of another day full of possibility; completion and collapse. I may see reflected in it my face as it is or my face as I have imagined it should be.
Guilt is my own creation. I am a human being. I live and I succeed and I fail. The people I love know that I love them. The words I write know that I mean them. But I will always be getting to know my own humanity and learning how to accept each flame and flower. Late at night, this is what I am left with. The journey is long and winding. The journey, too, is my own creation.
And in my poorly lit room, I sit in it and don’t need to feel so guilty.