Currently I am Misool Eco-Resort on an island in far Eastern Indonesia, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I don’t say this to brag. I say it because Misool Eco-Resort represents the best of humankind striving to find the proper balance between the natural world and—
Oh, who am I kidding. Of course I’m bragging. Why the hell else would I be blogging about where I am? I don’t blog about it when I am at the Safeway on Taravel and 17th in San Francisco.
Do I feel guilty about my boasting? You bet I do. Feeling guilty is nothing new for me. I feel guilty about something or other most of the time. I even dream about being guilty.
If only I could do something with all this guilt, like become a better person, or bring peace to the world, or generate piles of cash. But I never found any useful direction to channel my unending reservoir of guilt, which only made me feel guiltier.
Then I had a breakthrough moment while flying across the Pacific Ocean with my wife Kathi and our friend Rabih Alameddine. In a plane, that is. We missed our connecting flight due to a delay and were told we’d have to spend the night in Tokyo. As we made our way through customs, we became separated from Rabih. Kathi wanted to wait. “I told him we’d wait for him,” she said over and over again. I, however, insisted we keep moving.
“He’s probably ahead of us,” I said, based on absolutely nothing. I found a shuttle to our hotel and we settled into our room. We were just finishing our dinner when Rabih rolled in, tired, grumpy, and footsore.
“Hey—what happened?” He said. “I waited an hour and a half for you guys at the airport.”
I felt bad. Guilty, as a matter of fact. And there was nothing I could do about it. I apologized, as I so often find myself doing.
“Oh darling,” Rabih said, after I began to wear him down with repeated expressions of regret. “It’s no big deal. I like it when people feel guilty—it means they owe me.”
That was when we came up with a great idea for a new self-help technique. You know how gurus and creativity coaches encourage us to “go to our happy place” when we need a boost of self-esteem? You know the meditation technique that has you “go to your safe place” to heal emotional trauma?
Who are those people kidding? If we could go to our happy or safe place that easily we’d be there all the time. That’s why drugs and alcohol are so popular. But our guilty place—that’s a destination we can all get to in a hurry, with the exception of psychopaths such as Newt Gingrich.
And so a new technique for addressing tough emotions was born. Feeling inadequate? Depressed? Worried? Made a fool of yourself at work? Forgot someone’s birthday? Broke an expensive camera you borrowed from a friend? Spent too much money at the casino? Did a lousy job raising your children? No problem! Stop over-thinking it—just close your eyes and go to your guilty place. It is your fault! You are a bad person!
No need to waste all that energy striving to be a balanced individual—you’re not one, and you never will be. In fact, you’re an asshole. So run with it—or better yet, sit quietly with this knowledge, close your eyes, breathe evenly, and go to your guilty place. You’ll be glad you did.
We think our new “Go to You Guilty Place” technique could revolutionize our understanding of human consciousness. Barring that, we think it should get us on a major morning show. We’d love to help people such as Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Gayle King, Dr. Phil, and Barbara Walters feel like crap about themselves. The gold standard would be getting Deepak Chopra to admit he is a complete jerk.
Rabih and I don’t expect to be given a Nobel Prize for this work. We were thinking more like two or three Nobels—maybe one for medicine, one for literature, and that one they give out for peace. After all, we are just two humble men who are currently hanging out in paradise. (Did I mention we were at Misool Eco-Resort in Indonesia with a lot of really cool, influential people?) We are not creating a new religion here, though we think a good name would be Shameatology.
Are you in? Good! Your first assignment is to read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. When you’re done, think about everything stupid, selfish, careless, or mean you’ve ever done and go to your guilty place. If you don’t get through the novel, don’t worry—just go straight to your guilty place. Basically, whatever you do, go to your guilty place, you stupid jerk.
That will be $500.