For Anastasia Stogova

Dear Anastasia Stogova,

I just received a package from Seoul, South Korea. It arrived at my address but there is a note inside addressed to you thanking you for the purchase. The package contains some toothbrushes, a hand cream, some other cosmetic, and a little gift. As I’m sure you already know, we “the Russians” tend to sound the same to everybody but ourselves.

Please get in touch if you want your purchase. There is no way I’m paying to send it back to Korea but I’d send it to you if you are in North America. But make sure to tell me whether you are in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty because I might reconsider.

If you received my purchase (facial masks), I wouldn’t mind getting them. In case I don’t hear from you within a couple if weeks, I will use the gift with kind thoughts for you.

Thank you!

Regulation Happy

Wood-burning fireplaces will be banned in Montreal because “they cause pollution.”

I’m now happy that I’m not in Montreal. They are very regulation-happy back there. There is also a regulation banning food trucks. And I’m not even touching on language policies.

Self-Serving Guilt

Guilt is the most destructive, paralyzing feeling of all. It’s a horrible burden that crushes people and demolishes their lives. I want to suggest a productive way of addressing guilt and getting from under its weight. Please understand that I’m not talking about a short-term, situational experience. I accidentally stepped on a person’s foot in line for coffee today and I felt bad. But I’m now very much over it. The guilt that I want to address here is the kind that people carry around for a long time. Weeks, months, years. 

We all know that guilt is painful. However, if we cling to it for such a protracted period of time, this means it is serving some purpose for us. Nobody would engage in an activity over a significant period of time if that activity didn’t carry significant benefits. If we feel guilty, it means we need to feel this way. Unearthing the benefits guilt brings to our lives will be the first step on the way of healing.

Here are some possibilities:

1. Guilt can offer an illusion of control. If I caused these horrible events, then the world can ultimately be controlled by me in all of its unpredictability.

2. Guilt can offer an excuse for stasis. If things I do have such bad consequences, here is a great excuse to do nothing.

3. Guilt can allow one not to grow. If I’m stuck on this action I feel so guilty about, I will forever remain at the age when I committed it. People who feel guilty about things they did 30 years ago show this same kind of immaturity in every single other context, as well. 

4. Guilt can reinforce the image of oneself as a hopelessly rotten, bad individual. There is nothing than the human psyche values more than stability and lack of change. Guilt might be a nifty little mechanism that perpetuates this sweet feeling of personal uselessness and rottenness. 

Now, the purpose of the exercise is not to feel even more guilty for being a controlling, infantile individual with no desire to move ahead. Doing so would not change the situation. What would help is identify the roots of the problem. How did I come by the feeling of myself as bad? Why am I afraid of growth? Which responsibilities that the guilt is allowing me to avoid do I fear? Why do I fear them so much?

The important thing to remember is that guilt is destroying you and people around you. There are no healthy purposes it can serve, none whatsoever. Whenever you engage in feeling guilty, you are doing something deeply unhealthy. Now is the time to stop. Lay down this burden and start walking away from it. And this will be the best thing you can do for yourself and everybody else.

The Two Sides of the Climate Change Debate

The climate change issue has very kooky people on both sides. There are the denialists who think that “it snowed a lot last winter which means there isn’t any global warming” is an actual argument that it is acceptable to use in conversations with adults. They also have a second argument which sounds something like, “Scientists who study climate change get paid for their work which means there is no global warming.” We haven’t yet heard this argument applied to cancer research but I’m not discarding the possibility we might one day.

On the other side of the issue, we have the believers. If they managed to be at least marginally calm and non-hysterical, they could do a lot of good. Sadly, however, they have chosen as their only strategy the painting of apocalyptic pictures of everybody’s imminent demise amidst excruciating suffering. A psychologically healthy person is not going to listen to this doom-and-gloom howling for longer than two minutes.

So the issue is stuck between the idiots and the weirdos and nothing gets done.