My wife, Carol, got up at 3:15 Thursday morning for a 6:30 fight to Denver. It’s the first time in over 30 years that one of us went to visit while the other stayed home.
I have two sons, one by Carol, and the two other children by my ex-wife. My son by my ex-wife, James, is turning fifty, and my daughter, Tandis, also half-Iranian, is thirty six, divorced and raising two young girls. Carol’s son, Chris, forty-seven, (I think), did me the honor of adopting me a few years ago. At a gathering in Denver last October, his father and I were in the same room, and Chris introduced his dad and turning to me he said, “And this is my father.” My son James and Chris, share the same generous nature.
Chris and I grew up together. He was a very impish, mischievous, willful, and a brilliantly intelligent child. His mother and I fell in love right away, and I soon moved in with her. But being newly in love is fraught with its own uncertainties, ignorance, vivid fear, and widespread touchiness because the lovers are so vulnerable. I feared that Carol was not lost in my love the way I was lost in hers, and her deepest fear is that I didn’t belong to her the way she belonged to me. When I would blow up at Carol, or she at me, I would grab some clothes and books, and leave the house, but no sooner had I reached the front door, then I would find Chris at my side, “I’m coming too,” he said. And that was always the case. He provided a steadying ballast for that tempestuous sea of early passion and early love, and we grew very close.
Chris, like James, is a single father who has proved an amazingly competent and loving parent. He is kind, encouraging, very strict when he has to be (but only when he has to be) and has raised by himself two teenage boys who are everything a father could wish: they are thoughtful, generous, honest (most of the time,) alive to life and receptive to new ideas and new experiences. Their minds are sound and sympatric. They read because they know that to know more is to be more. They remember. They reflect. They build our hopes along with theirs. They are achievers.
There is a passage in the Ethics by John Dewey, which quotes William James: “When I am moved by self love to keep my seat whilst the ladies are standing or take the biggest portion to cut out my neighbor, what I really love is that comfortable seat. It is the thing itself that I grab. I love them primarily like a mother loves her babe, or a generous man his heroic deed. Whenever, as here, self-seeking is the outcome of a single instinctive propensity, it is but a name for certain reflex acts. Something rivets my attention fatally and fatally provokes the selfish response. In fact, the more I am utterly selfish in this primitive way, the more blind my absorbed thought will be in the objects and tendencies of my lusts and devoid of any inward looking glance.”
(My memory is declining a bit. My ability to remember complicated passages has been a bit compromised by time.)
One phrase in particular passage stands out, “In fact, the more I am utterly selfish in this primitive way, the more blind my absorbed thought will be in the objects and tendencies of my lusts and more devoid of any inward looking glance.”