Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The reason for the family...

From Heretics, Chesterton on the family:
The common defence of the family is that, amid the stress and fickleness of life, it is peaceful, pleasant, and at one. But there is another defence of the family which is possible,
and to me evident; this defence is that the family is not peaceful and not pleasant and not at one.
And he's right. Some days, family just drives you crazy. I guess that's the whole point of being a family: they can drive you crazy, it's their right to drive you crazy, and yet they're an inescapable reality. As the saying goes: you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. Otherwise, life would be just, well, boring.

I got the opposite of boring the past few days. It got to the point where I cut my part of the family vacation short. I'll skip the details, except to say that things could've been better thought out. It might have been worked out, but by then my mood had deteriorated to the point where I just wanted to go home. So I did.

Maybe it was just a streak of petulance. Maybe it was a streak of meanness. Maybe it was madness and melancholia. Maybe it was me finally asserting my right not to take part in a family vacation. Or maybe it was all of the above.

Now I'm back in my usual surroundings and the rest of the family is enjoying (or trying to enjoy) the remainder of the vacation. I've restored some small measure of my sanity and I can look upon the events with a calmer mind.

Could I have worked things out differently, more pleasantly? Of course. But I don't think the lessons would have stuck if I hadn't done what I had done. It would have been the same thing over and over again. Well, not anymore.

And so the rest of the family might not look kindly on me for the next few days. But so what? Fair is fair, they're stuck with me, too.

This is, indeed, the sublime and special romance of the family. It is romantic because it is a toss-up. It is romantic because it is everything that its enemies call it. It is romantic because it is arbitrary. It is romantic because it is there. So long as you have groups of men chosen rationally, you have some special or sectarian atmosphere. It is when you have groups of men chosen irrationally that you have men. The element of adventure begins to exist; for an adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose.


  1. Gee... never thought of you as the moody type...

    - Hoovenson 'finally, remembering to sign, at last...'

  2. You know, you can just sign in using Other, instead of Anonymous.

    And yes, I do get moody. It's a sign of old age. Old men shouldn't have to be dragged to vacations.

  3. Hm, does this qualify as an angsty post? ;-)

  4. No. Because I manage to come to a resolution and I'm not whining.