Recently several high profile incidents have given me occasion to reflect on some aspects of what I would say we in modern life continually are want to rediscover and that is the wisdom of those philosophies that teach “living in the moment’’ or taking it “a day at a time.” These incidents involve famous to near famous people that as such, I say, tempt one to think not of the moment but of a greater arch of life, of that “good life,” a life where great desires are achieved and if only we could be “there.” Yet daily we are taught, as in these cases, how we “disavow” that lie. That is we simply ignore the true reality that we are all “fellow travelers to the grave.”
So who and what am I talking about? One is the separation of Al and Tipper Gore after forty years of marriage. The second is the death of Ted Koppel’s son, age forty of apparent acute alcohol poisoning after a day of drinking in Manhattan, and finally, the recent saga of author and News Hour essayist Roger Rosenblatt and his wife after the sudden death of their physician daughter.
All of these people would be generally recognized as people that basically have simply gone about living their lives and have at least been well intentioned. Of course such a statement was more simply said before the advent of the Internet or the plethora of media outlets where we find the most vial opinions hurled about, about just about anyone by anyone for any reason. That said I take them to be people trying to achieve good in the world.
What is my point? Mostly I have already made it; but the details. First an apology to those mentioned and condolences and some self monitoring I understand that I am now one of “those media outlets.” I do realize that whatever I say is purely conjecture or at best an educated guess and the likelihood is that any analysis will miss the mark and likely by far. They are examples to talk about generalities.
Those generalities are, again, how our desires just might outrun our realities and how modern life and access to how “those” people live and how we imagine they live just might often cause us trouble as if we didn’t have enough already.
So, here we have two couples living out their lives in very different ways for the moment. The Gores having survived the Senate, a family history of the Senate and eight years in the White House and almost ten years out of the White House call it quits. Not only this but a death of a child. And the experts tell us there are two things in their history that are against them these being, being High School sweet hearts and the loss of this child. But this said in the end are the Gore’s the victim as we all are of now longing for that very same “good life,” a life where great desires are achieved and if only we could be ‘there’.”
We are back to an ever present theme of mine and that is “interest,” an ever delicate balance. We need “mutual interest.” You would think a marriage of forty years; such a rich one would have such a tapestry of interest that there would be no question of many “mutual rich interests.” The fact is they are separating and if we want we can contemplate why.
In comparison Roger Rosenblatt and his wife are now living in an “In-law” apartment, a one bedroom, one bath affair in their son-in-laws house. They moved from a five bedroom home in New York to Suburban D.C. When they arrived after the death of their daughter and one of the grandchildren asked “how long are you staying” the answer was “forever.” He says in interviews, and to paraphrase, “What were we to do sit at home and stare at each other.” I suggest that indeed then they might have separated. Here they have new and vital new mutual interests? In no way do I pit one couple against the other. Say one is better than the other. (see essay “Making Toast”)
Exactly how and why Andrew Koppel died is not so important to me. It seems clear that alcohol had a lot to do with it and a lot of it. I reflect on Ted’s words at his loss, “Our son, Andrew, was a brilliant, caring man, whose loss we will mourn for the rest of our lives." I wonder why “brilliant” was first? Was he speaking to his son? Was he still trying to reassure an insecure son that he did not need to compete with his father? To tell him there was no there, “there?”
Shame and Humiliation
http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090