Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's life

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Utah writer Christopher Bigelow, in the course of answering the "Four Things" meme, cops to coveting my lifestyle—but then again, not really:

I'm a little envious of his lifestyle of living in big cities like New York and Chicago, not having any kids, letting go of the Mormon rope, doing lots of traveling and drinking, and getting deeply involved in a writing community.... But I suppose I got all that worldliness out of my system as a young adult—well, most of it, anyway—and I'm sure the path I'm on now will lead to more long-term happiness than his....  [full post]
While I suppose I'm flattered in a way, I'm more than a little disturbed by the implication that there's greater long-term happiness to be derived from a traditional and religious nuclear family than from my little family. It's possible that Chris means my lifestyle would not ultimately be satisfying to him, which would be a perfectly fair thing to say, but the way the statement is phrased makes it sound like the objective possibility of satisfaction obtaining from my choices in life is on the slim side.

It probably goes without saying, though I will say it anyway, that I do not covet Chris's lifestyle. I trust he won't be offended when I say that, because I don't intend to offend. I mean only that some of the things he values most are simply not what interest me in life, and I have good reason to suspect that playing patriarch to a Mormon nuclear family would render me dangerously miserable. I'm certain enough that I'm on the path of greatest happiness for Bill Shunn that I feel no compulsion to make major course corrections at this point in my life. Comparing levels of happiness with someone else is pretty much a pointless game.

Of course, what Chris mentions (lightly) coveting about my lifestyle are really just the trappings. He doesn't mention the two things that are most important to me, which are surely two of the things he cares about most: devotion to a loving spouse, and the writing itself. On that score I doubt we're so different.

So please go ahead and be happy with your life, Chris, and I'll be happy with mine.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/427645.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on November 7, 2007 10:14 AM.

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