Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Faveread: NYT on life in the crisis

The New York Times is running a series on "the stories of those striving to come to terms with the lives they lead" during this economic crisis. I suppose things must be worse for Americans than they are for Europeans/Germans; as Germany's Finance Minister Steinbrück stated in February, "our mood is better than our situation."

Anyway, I couldn't stop reading this article. At one point, the single 42-year-old author comments:

Most of my married friends now have children, the rewards of which appear to be exclusively intangible and, like the mysteries of some gnostic sect, incommunicable to outsiders. In fact it seems from the outside as if these people have joined a dubious cult: they claim to be much happier and more fulfilled than ever before, even though they live in conditions of appalling filth and degradation, deprived of the most basic freedoms and dignity, and owe unquestioning obedience to a capricious and demented master.

I have compared having children to a religious experience myself, though not quite the one the author describes. It's more like a drug-induced outer-body experience: you have this little creature running around picking up all of your habits, good and bad, and giving you a bit of a mirror image of yourself. It's religious because, in my experience, there is no greater incentive to improve yourself as a person, lest your innocent offspring suffer from all of your bad traits. It's a drug-induced trip because you go through a roller coaster ride of emotions, hear voices all the time, start seeing things that are not there (through the child's imagination), lose sleep, and generally go places you would never go without children, such as playgrounds.

Anyhow, the rest of the series is also quite readable.

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