Guilt plays too large a role in my life. Is it ever really a good thing? Is it guilt that makes me repentant? I have realized lately that my biggest shortcoming is what I say: I'm too critical, too apt to complain, and altogether too negative. Realizing that makes me feel dissatisfied and dejected and resolved to be better--is that a positive by-product of guilt? Does guilt motivate in a less powerful way than love or passion or desire for greatness? Or is guilt even the appropriate term when it's a positive force? Should it be "penitence" or "godly sorrow"? Or have we skewed the original meaning of guilt after generations of misapplied guilt? Hm. I'll have to check the OED sometime.
Anyway, you can see I've raised a bunch of thorny issues, and being under-qualified in philosophy, I won't attempt to answer them. What I do know is that the negative kind of guilt--the counterproductive, wake me up in the middle of the night, bang my head against the wall so I can't focus on what comes next kind of guilt--is ruling my life right now. How? I coach track because I felt guilty saying no. Coaching track means I have less time for working out and reading and spending time with friends, which makes me feel guilty. Trying to squeeze those things into an increasingly small space means my job suffers--which makes me feel guilty. And feeling guilty is supposed to be an unhealthy thing according to women's magazines and pop psych, which makes me feel guilty.
Solution? I am cutting down to coaching only Mondays and Wednesdays for one hour each next season. I am passing on the measly stipend, which will mean I can help as much or as little as I want without . . . wait for it. . . . feeling guilty. I hereby declare my coaching resolution for next season so I don't cave when they ask me to stay on:
1. I will coach only Mondays and Wednesdays and only the long and triple jumpers (okay, maybe the hurdlers on Tuesdays, but only for one hour on each of those days!).
2. I will not accept a stipend.
3. I will not process any paperwork.
4. I will not ride the bus with the team, although I may attend district level meets on my own time, coming and going when I choose.
5. I will not travel with the team on weekends to crazy places like Virginia Beach and Richmond after spending the entire week sleep-deprived due to practices, meetings, and paperwork issues.
Aah! Writing that makes me feel . . . not guilty! Good start!