For Shame

“What’s the good of making mistakes if you don’t use them?”
— Sayers, Gawdy Night

I have an incredibly talented artist friend and one of my favorite things is to watch her paint. She paints on layer after layer or color, never completely covering up the previous layer. The finished product has such depth, as the layers peak through here and there, some stronger than others.

Sometimes I think of life as her canvas, blank at the beginning and slowly layered with decision after decision. All decisions — the good, the bad, the questionable — create layers of color that together bring the depth needed for a remarkable piece of art. But what does one do when that leech, shame, is painted on in great sweeping strokes as well? When the depth and beauty is covered by an unrefined glob of dense darkness?

A rule-follower at heart, I am the exact sum of my actions. Performance (and consequently, public image) is my judge. The shame of every immature and daft decision, however grand or insignificant, is painted on in dense and opaque tones that render useless the very purpose of experiences and poor decisions.

And the dilemma stares at me, unblinking, from the mirky glob — how does one deal with shame?

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