On Not Being Everything to Everyone

Sometimes, I feel guilty that I’m not more thoughtful about where my clothes come from.

Or that I didn’t go to the rally on Tuesday. Or the March on Saturday. Or sign postcards to hurricane victims. Or contribute to my friend’s 5K to raise money for ALS treatment. Or make peanut butter cookies for the bake sale to benefit the animal shelter.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m not doing more for all the worthy causes. Our world, after all, bursts with need and suffering.

But guilt is a feeling, and what I know is that guilt is often a weak reason to take action. I’m not motivated by a desire to alleviate suffering, I’m motivated by a desire to alleviate my guilt.

And then I make a batch of cookies, give 25 bucks to the 5K, sign postcards with resentment. Or worse, the hope that whomever asked me to do that will say yes when I come asking them for the causes that matter to me.

The world doesn’t need more people acting out of guilt. The world needs people acting out of unrestricted love. The kind of love that is uncontainable, resilient, creative, and wide. The kind that comes up with fresh solutions, renews itself and replenishes itself, and doesn’t guilt others into participating, but is an open-door for those similarly compelled.

We each have that love in us. For our children, nuclear disarmament, public education, our art, sustainable seafood. It’s a love that raises our energy up high. Guilt drops it down low.

No great movement was driven by guilt. It was driven by hearts so fierce, so committed, the outcome was not an if, but a when.

So when guilt seeps into my consciousness, I can choose to give my day over to it and the energy-draining resentment it supplies. Or, I can say, “Thank you for thinking of me; that’s not right for me now,” and give my day over to what I love without restriction.

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