Guilt is an odd animal. It doesn’t come at you like most other opponents. Lust will charge through the door and make itself known, but can be easily vanquished by quickly rubbing one out. Envy can be talked down off the ledge by simply taking a good look around and turning off the TV for a few days. Greed ain’t nuttin but a thang. Nothing uses the shadows quite like guilt.
So I’m having this dream last night, I’m at a wake and although I don’t recognize any of the faces, I’m still standing there all morose and such and wondering who’s in the box. That’s the thing about dreams, sometimes you’re just thrown in balls-deep with no explanation. It’s been awhile since anyone I know has died and I’m pretty sure most people I know are healthy and not on death’s doorstep. So why a funeral?
I try to turn the corner of the room I’m in and look into the bigger, adjacent room that is holding the guest of honor but it’s crowded and I can’t seem to get by anyone.
Next I’m on a train. I sort of get that one, pushing through a crowd made my brain ‘jump the tracks’ appropriately enough, and think of the pushing and shoving that takes place on a commuter train. The thing is, I’m still trying to make my way through the crowd to see who is in the box. I seem to think that he or she is interred in the next car. I’m keeping my eyes down so as not to make eye contact with anyone, the last thing I need in an already confusing dream is to add some conversation. The train is barreling along, in and out of dark places and light and it’s creating sort of a strobe effect.
Just like the party I’m at. I lift my eyes and I’m surrounded by old friends. Except they are still young and I’m still young and the music is thumping and the lights are flashing and it is clearly on. Someone passes me a beer and we’re all shouting above the loud music and having a great time. Everything I say is funny and everything they say is funny and we’re loud and obnoxious and suddenly I’m back at the funeral home. My friends are gone but I’m still holding a beer and shouting and acting the fool. Everyone is looking at me in horror and suddenly I just know that this is a child’s wake because everyone is particularly heartbroken and I just yelled something humorous and inappropriate.
And I wake up.
Sitting here now I can totally rationalize how the subconscious is complicated and you can’t take things either too literally or too seriously but I’m telling you when I woke up my cup runnethed over with guilt. Try as I might I couldn’t get back to sleep, all I wanted to do was somehow make it back to the funeral home and apologize to everyone. A funeral home that didn’t exist filled with people I’ve never met before and I laid there in bed feeling like the worst guy in the world.
A wake. A train. A party. What the fuck did it mean?
Now I wonder why I chose to say guilt was an animal instead of an emotion. Does it stalk you? Does it pick up your scent and trail you and chase you through sleep and wakes and trains and parties and then suddenly decide the time is right to jump out and inflict itself on you?
Can it really feel triumphant if it makes you feel horrible but you’re not sure why? Seems like a bit of a hollow victory if I need to spend time trying to figure out what I have to feel guilty for.
Or maybe that’s the big win, making you sort through all the possible transgressions you have to feel accountable for. Maybe this guilt stuff is a little smarter than I give it credit for but maybe it underestimated me as well.
Tonight I’m going back to that wake and I’m going to tear that shit up.