I’ll be revisiting old friendships this weekend — high school friends, some of whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in decades. How might I best characterize myself for them? By what terms might I achieve peace with these brethren, unburdened of unspoken rivalries? In the past, I may have been wounded and wronged by these friends, just as I may have wounded and wronged them in return. Yet as Laura Archera Huxley counsels in her book You Are Not The Target, “each one of us has a function to fulfill. It is when we spend our time and energy looking down in contempt or looking up with sterile longing that we lose sight of this function. Envy is comparison. He who is in the continuous process of being and becoming what he really is, directs his attention to real values, not to measuring other people’s achievements” (240). What I’m suffering is what Ralph McTell calls the “Zimmerman Blues.”
I traveled far from home, lost touch, saddled myself with unrepayable debt — but amid this impoverished wandering, I followed my heart, I found my partner, I learned how to love. Freedom outside in the sun of the prison yard. The country is not one where each person owns or gets enough on which to live. The fault for that lies with the country, not me. Were it otherwise, each could attend to the beauty and the glory of the earth. In the meantime, I break away as much as I can from “compulsions, ambitions, hates, vanities, envies”; I try to conduct myself day by day as a whole being.