(13-14 April 1994) after William Shakespeare
Should I run for city council? I’d rather be a monk or earn a reputation for misanthropy, but such a serious commitment can’t receive the consideration I give to phone calls during dinner from charities. Exasperated, I would prefer to refuse without listening to the pitch, but why am I exasperated? Is this particular caller not indeed grateful for my previous donations? Did I give that money to make him happy? Or am I being taken advantage of, as having a telephone obligates an answer? In a simpler society, the salesman would trouble himself more to get his foot in the door. In this one, our defenses must be practiced to fend off greater subtleties. Have I indeed won 10 million dollars if only I would return the enclosed certificate with an order for a magazine subscription? Do I have the ego of a politician as well as the virtues—articulate, intelligent, well-informed, conscientious, honest, caring? Perhaps my friends would like to have me think I do, but I’m not a public person. It’s not me. I haven’t got the time. I wouldn’t enjoy playing those games. I’m doing enough already. That and everything else is more than anyone should ask. Too many excuses displace a considered reply and draw the mind into a complacency in which I wouldn’t question my ability to hold a candle in the wind at the open door, or doubt my cherished optimism, or admit that things I care about are threatened. The forks of need and greed are stabbing for the meat and even the invited guests are hungry.