Fabulous stuff, sir. I've been wincing through similar revelations about my past self, thanks to the ongoing process of "paring down The Pile." The Pile is the antique drawings and letter of my humiliating younger self, dumped at my father's house when I left the US, then relocated to my mother's attic when my father died last year. Naturally, I am delaying the inevitable decision I'll have to make: Toss out all these embarrassing reminders of my childish, desperate self or find a nook for them here in my current home, where their stench can haunt me forever. I honestly don't know which is the more psychologically healthy choice.

Damn glad to have found you on Substack. I feel slightly less lonely in their Cartoonists Who Became Essayists category. Always delighted to read your work.

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As someone about to celebrate 41 years of marriage let me testify to the benefits and strength that can be had from a long term relationship. The fact that it is very hard to navigate such a thing aside; if you are fortunate enough to find someone who complements your strengths and balances your weaknesses, and who shares an ability to commit to the idea of commitment, there are as many ways to navigate the relationships as there are couples willing to try. The benefits defy imagination, and the fullness of life shared with a worthy partner (married or not) include emotional growth, sharing of oneself and all that life puts in your path, and ultimately the growth of your ability to love.

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The Long View is now on my Kindle library list. Thank you for all the interesting suggestions.

I think about how humans escape from societal scripts that no longer serve and about how new options are created. So people can be aware of their own motivations and those of others, while being aware of available options & intentional about choices being made. As just one example, Dr. Zhana of the Casual Sex Project helps people to include non-monogamy as an option in their relationships; she’s doing it in an informed, aware, and optimistic way. Much better than the “free sex” era that I lived through, during which I made choices without understanding the implications, or that I was being exploited.

It’s weird that I occasionally feel “worried” that J might not “settle down” with his girlfriend, get married, and have a baby. The script is still there, and every time my neighbors talk about their new grand babies, the script catches me out. So weird.

On this point: “The unchallenged authority and entitlement that the upper-class white men of the great colonial empires (America’s included) enjoyed—and the crushing pressure from outside and within them to appear to be something that no one could possibly be—deformed their psyches, made monsters of them. (I’ve never forgotten Frederick Douglass describing how even his naturally kindhearted masters became cruel in the roles imposed on them by slavery.)”

There was some interesting work done by Barry Oshry on how people behave according to societal scripts based on their status as tops, middles, and bottoms. It’s called Seeing Systems. Apparently people sometimes fled the weeklong workshop, the pressure, anxiety, anger, and frustration that they felt was simply too hard to handle.

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""This, then, was the situation." The opening paragraph is about a woman planning her son’s engagement party, every detail of which she can already imagine with tedious precision; the evening holds zero potential for interest or surprise."

I just got engaged and this sounds exactly. like. my. mother.


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You sold me! I just ordered the novel.

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"Marriage is even more of a mess now than it was then: its original utilitarian purposes now largely obsolete, this vestigial institution has, in the absence of the church, dependable careers, stable communities, or extended family, become the single flimsy pillar atop which people pile their entire identities, as well as purpose and meaning in their lives." — Yes.

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