EPISODE 257

Mrs. Zahl recently used the word “periphery” to describe our attitude, mine and hers, to increasing numbers of institutions, groups, and schools of thought to which we have been attached and for which we have been engaged for a long time.

It’s not that one has changed one’s mind, or believes differently. Rather, it’s just that human institutions and associations, over time, tend to disappoint. You begin to see you were attached to something quite malleable and even mercurial — which you believed to be enduring and trustworthy.

Thus, for example, I have withdrawn my emotional connection to Harvard College. It’s happened (on the basis of an ideological policy the administration has aggressively pursued). One didn’t decide to stop feeling warmly about the Yard and its environs; I just woke up one day no longer feeling that way.

There are other examples. But maybe you can fill in your own.

Funny, given the atmosphere of malice and “gotcha” that permeates our politics, I sometimes wonder whether it’s safer, emotionally, to shift one’s natural patriotism to a place of indifference. Hence, Steve Perry’s new song, counseling withdrawal from love, at the end of the cast.

But no! Finding one’s way to the periphery of engagement (with this world) could be the prelude to engagement to the everlasting world of Life. All you need to do is read “Pilgrim’s Progress”. And oddly, or ironically, you can sometimes return to “this” world, with your sleeves rolled up, when your ego is no longer tied to results.