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Peonies and Guilt


Peonies remind me that life is short.

It’s May and tiny peony buds are popping out all over the bush outside my window. Peonies don’t last long, so when they bloom, I sink my nose and camera into those precious pink petals and thank my lucky stars for my life. Peonies remind me that life is short.

We all know how short life is, but how many of us actually take responsibility for this? I am as guilty as the next person. I know that sitting for more than 3 hours a day is likely to shave years off of my life. Yet, I sit at my desk, writing about health, completely ignoring the fact that last week I wrote about being exquisitely aware of the passage of time. Do I think I am exempt because I exercise and eat well?  If so, I am a bigger fool than I realized.

I justify sitting, saying how much I like to write. I’m not much different than my father who wouldn’t give up potato chips and other salty food, despite the fact that his kidneys were failing. “If I can’t eat what I want, then I am not living,” he declared.

Ultimately, he may be right. For me, eating potato chips doesn’t feel like a precious joy. I can live without salty foods. My weak spot is sitting. I’ve tried standing up to write, and was relieved when studies showed no benefit to standing versus sitting. This meant I could go back to my unhealthy, but deeply satisfying habits. Or get a treadmill desk, which has about as much chance of happening as my discovering Big Foot.

I do take breaks, albeit not nearly as many as I intend to take. And I don’t end my day watching a lot of TV. It’s easy to move around, stretch, and do strengthening exercises when watching TV. I don’t know if it matters, but it sure reduces my guilt.

The guilt is there because I think because I am a nurse and health writer, I should be perfect. And therein lies the problem. I’ll never be perfect. I won’t even come close. So, perhaps the trick is to skip the guilt, Now that is something I can practice perfectly. That, and smelling the peonies.

What health habit do you feel guilty about?

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