Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guilty as charged

[...] If I were better at physics, I could probably create an equation for this: It is not so much the piano falling; it is the constant potential that the piano will fall. It is an imagined piano, endlessly falling, waiting to take shape the minute I stop looking for it. As soon as I relax, it will form out of the air molecules. I am guilty of the happiness that comes from feeling good, from not craning my neck. That loose space, the space unwatched, the life lived."
- Aimee Bender, "House of Love and Bragging", The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt

So, as it turns out, this book isn't as funny as I thought it would be. No, indeed. It's far more serious and thought-provoking which is exactly what I WASN'T looking for. Alas, I'm reading it because there is something compelling about it that urges me to read on. The passage above by Aimee Bender is just one of many I could have quoted as though the writers were writing just for me. I realize, though I think I have always known, as I was reading that I live my life waiting for the next bad thing to happen because bad things always happen. The piano is hovering above me waiting to fall and the moment I think things are okay, or I stop waiting for the piano to fall, it crushes me like a pancake. Bender says the guilt is from happiness, of not waiting for the piano to fall and that this is our lot in life. I long ago accepted that this was my lot in life. The piano mercilessly hovering, waiting to crush me. I need no prompting to feel guilt. Guilt is like a weight around my neck and though there are moments I feel as though I can see rays of sunshine, I am dragged back down into the bog by this mass slowly pulling me down and drowning me in the mud.

As it turns out, this book is totally enlightening in a totally heavy and depressing way. It's telling me what I already know, but much more eloquently and with beautiful prose, as if that makes the pill easier to swallow. Oh, the guilt I feel. About everything. Even about being happy.

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