Moderation in Memories

Certain memories—like long-dormant volcanoes—occasionally erupt unexpectedly. Their sudden and explosive power takes over all five senses, focusing one’s consciousness on a single experience in the past, to the complete exclusion of the present. When those all-consuming memories take hold, one’s brain erases awareness of the present, leaving the mind in an inexplicable limbo. That confused state permits those jarring memories to be hijacked by fear or longing, transforming historical reality into fantasy, tinged with truth. That transformation is where the flames of madness can ignite. If the fire is extinguished quickly, only a few ashes remain as evidence of combustion. If supplied with ample fuel, whisps of smoke from the conflagration become permanent pipedreams. But the results of glowing embers, beneath which are layers of cool combustibles, are difficult to predict; delusional sanity, though, is the most frequent outcome, characterized by listening to one’s dreams as if they were extracts from an instruction manual. Listen.


Sunlight asked for permission before it shattered darkness, breaking out of the prison of night that surrounded it like a shroud. Whether or not permission had been granted, daytime would have emerged, deliberately and without constraints. Sunlight’s perfunctory requests are known to be polite expressions, to which the replies are obligatory. But, in fact, the responses to sunlight’s requests are irrelevant. Power is less intimidating when accompanied by humility, yet humility quickly transforms into seething anger when the expected response is not forthcoming.


According to Google’s Generative AI response to the question, “What is guilt?,” there are three basic kinds:

    • Natural guilt, or remorse over something you did or failed to do
    • Free-floating, or toxic, guilt—the underlying sense of not being a good person
    • Existential guilt, the negative feeling that arises out of the injustice you perceive in the world

The Generative AI response goes into more detail:

Guilt can stem from:

    • Believing you’ve failed to fulfill expectations you or others have set
    • Surviving trauma or disaster
    • Guilt can also arise from a process of self-evaluation and introspection. It can involve your perception of how others value you.

Guilt can be difficult to endure and doesn’t go away easily. Some signs that you might be coping with a guilt complex include: Anxiety, Crying, Insomnia.

All three kinds of guilt probably can exist at the same time in the same person. That statement is not from Google’s Generative AI. Perhaps the most difficult to overcome is free-floating guilt; that kind of guilt probably arises from natural guilt that is allowed to fester. That having been said, though, overcoming remorse over action or inaction may take herculean effort, especially if the result of the act or failure to act causes or prolongs mental or physical pain in another person or otherwise creates in someone an intense level of distress. And failure to overcome that kind of guilt can lead to the free-floating sense of inadequacy or worse.

Understanding guilt does not necessarily enable one to overcome it, especially if getting to that understanding reveals aspects of one’s personality that the person cannot accept.


Today is Tuesday. Wine discount day. Newspaper publishing day. A day for other things.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.