Guilt, Punctuation And Grammar.

On Conrad’s LBC post Guilty Pleasures last Friday, I had left the following two comments.

Why are you feeling guilty?

Sorry, the emphasis is on the YOU.

I had to write the second comment in as this simple five word sentence can be understood in five different ways and five possibly different answers can be given.
WHY, are you feeling guilty?
Why,ARE, you feeling guilty?
Why are, YOU,feeling guilty?
Why are you, FEELING, guilty?
Why are you feeling, GUILTY?

Get where I am going? This is why I prefer face to face conversations rather than the written word!

This thought process reminds me of Bhaja Govindam, a very popular treatise on Hinduism with easily remembered verses in Sanskrit ascribed to Adi Shankara.

The first stanza translated reads thus:

Seek Govinda, Seek Govinda,
Seek Govinda, O Fool!
When the appointed times comes (death),
grammar rules surely will not save you.

This stanza is repeated as a chorus at the end of each subsequent stanza.

It also reminds me of a Mullah Nasrudding story;
Mullah Nasruddin ferrying a scholar across a river said something ungrammatical to him.
“Have you never studied grammar?” asked the scholar.
“No,” said the Mullah.
“Then half your life has been wasted,” said the scholar looking pityingly at him.
Sometime later the good Mullah turned to his passenger.
“Have you ever learnt to swim?” he asked.
“No,” said the scholar.
“Then your whole life has been wasted,” said the Mullah. “We’re sinking.”

Then of course there is the immortal story Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss.

A Panda Bear walks into a cafĂ© and orders a sandwich and a drink. After he is finished eating, the waiter comes over to bring him the check. When the waiter arrives at the table, he just starts to ask ‘Would you like any des…’ Then the Panda Bear reaches into his fur, pulls out a gun, and shoots the waiter dead. The Panda Bear then wipes off his chin with his napkin, gets up, and starts to walk out. Just as he is about to go through the door, the manager grabs him. ‘Wait a minute!’ he yells, ‘You just killed my best waiter! Besides that, you didn’t even pay for your sandwich!’

The Panda Bear grasps the manager by the throat, jacks him up, and growls, ‘Hey man! I’m a PANDA! Do you know what that means? Why don’t you look it up!’

At this the Panda walks out the door and ambles down the street. The manager, shaken, returns to his office and consults a dictionary.

He reads:
‘panda – a large mammal of the Asian mountain forests related to raccoons and true bears and characterized by bold black and white markings. Eats shoots and leaves.’

Guilty Pleasures.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Will knot,and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get eleven different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Anu.

“Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.”

And that is the rub. The guilt is not because of the pleasure one derives, but because of the duration of the joy. Both feed off each other. One tends to get hooked on to the guilt and the joy that guilt itself begets, not what brought the pleasure about.

Anu is of the age where guilt about all kinds of pleasures is normal and I am not surprised that she has come up with this topic. On the other end of the age-spectrum, I being the second oldest in the LBC gang, on the other hand, cannot be expected to feel guilty about any pleasure that I may be able to squeeze out of life. And I feel guilty about that. I will be accused of being insensitive because I cannot feel guilty about any kind of pleasure now.

If I am asked about my experiences of guilty pleasures, I must confess that I have none. Drinking in the Indian equivalent of speakeasies and shebeens during prohibition days was very pleasurable, but I did not feel guilty about doing that. I enjoyed every moment, because it was prohibited. I enjoyed drinking then more than I enjoyed drinking after prohibition was lifted.

Other, ahem, prohibited pleasures were also more enjoyable because of the prohibition, and when I look back on those, I re-live those moments and feel a nice glow about what grand experiences they were. What is there to be guilty about? They are part of who I am today.

There is also the problem that pleasure itself is undesirable in some value systems. Guilt usually arises in such a value system and all kinds of adverse reactions take place and guilt gets replaced by shame. The difference is not in semantics. Guilt is telling oneself that one did some thing bad and shame is when one feels that one is bad. This in turn, can become the proverbial load one carries throughout one’s life, unless intervention is sought.

The way I look at it, I will feel guilty about pleasure if I try to be someone I am expected to be and not who I am; and I will feel ashamed when I cannot be that expected person. So, the solution to the conundrum, is to take the pleasure when it comes my way and enjoy it without hiding it. That means being authentic about myself. It is easier said than done, I admit, but what alternative is there really?