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In Which Ryan Has A Guilt Complex

November 2021 | 2:11


Koopa and Goomba would like you to know that while it’s not quite radiator season, it is always cuddling season.

What's Been Happening

I won’t lie; this month has been stressful. In part I’m probably just finally dealing with things everyone else has already had to sort through as they went back to work since I’ve been lucky enough to stay in my own little time-out corner until recently, but even just the emotional toll of constantly asking myself “do I need to do this?” clouds the answer to the very question I’m trying to ask. This is obviously more of a commentary on myself than a situation, but I find I’m having to navigate “guilt” more than I have in a long time.

I feel guilty for not getting more done even though I’m accomplishing everything I set out to do, because I see how much more there is left on the path. I feel guilty for not helping more even though everyone is happy with me and supportive, because I know how much help is needed and how much more I can do. I feel guilty for judging strangers when I don’t know what led them to where they are, and I feel guilty for not having the emotional energy to engage with them and find out. I feel guilty for ludicrous things like not being perfect, and for totally reasonable things like not spending more time with my cats (seriously, they are amazingly efficient little organic machines that turn cat food directly into guilt and cat poop). I feel guilty for not leaving more time for myself, and then I feel guilty for doing something silly like feeling guilty no matter what I do or don’t do.

For anyone who is justifiably concerned about me after the last paragraph, please rest assured that as my monthly subject/title implies I’m aware this isn’t a great thing. I don’t share this because it’s brilliant insight or because it’s already resolved, but because I’ve learned it’s important to simply share sometimes. Being aware of it helps, but that’s not the same thing as a solution. I’ve talked with my doctor because it’s important to have them in the loop, but that alone won’t fix everything. I can tell I need to get better at forgiving myself for being human and at setting up my schedule so I can do what I want and need without as much need to doubt or question myself, but as you can tell that’s not where it needs to be yet. I don’t offer all this because I have the answers; I offer it because I think it’s important to remember and share that a lot of times we don’t, and that’s ok.

If this sounds familiar to you and you’ve been keeping it to yourself, hopefully this can get you over the hump to reach out even if it’s just to complain to a friend. If you think someone else is going through this, don’t hesitate to be the one to ask how they’re doing and share your own struggles. Most of all, try to remember that when you feel least comfortable sharing something is probably the most important time to do so.

May your masks smell pleasant and your packages arrive without incident,


Chart O' The Month

CaravanMedium Ensemble
00:00 / 10:00

“Caravan” is actually one of my older arrangements in that I did it originally for my undergraduate Afro-Cuban jazz group at the University of Akron (side note: how did we never call it the “Akro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble”? I’m normally on top of things like that). This version is for the Medium Ensemble and if it sounds like it was recorded in a cafeteria, that’s because it was recorded in a cafeteria as part of a school concert at Niles West High School featuring several of my Afro-diasporic charts.

Epidendrum 'Pacific Sunset' x 'Pink Rabbit'.JPG

Look, Nature!

I'm not sure if this technically counts as nature, but I happened to have a great view of my home city of Chicago on the way home recently. Say what you will about my town and I promise to go back to pictures my wife took, but at times it sure is pretty.

Education Notes

As much as I complain above about needing to manage my schedule better, man has it been great to see people and in particular what groups have been able to accomplish this fall. I’ve been judging more than in years past (upon request; I’m not just showing up and being judgmental), and I can honestly say the level of achievement is as high as in any year I’ve been around. I can also say that some of those same groups were very concerned mere weeks ago about being able to do anything let alone perform at the level I was allowed to see.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been struggling, first of all be smarter than me and don’t feel guilty about it. But also know that you have amazing peers and colleagues fighting the same battles and succeeding, so it can be done and as always don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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