“The Referendum”

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 never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. [Note to friends with children: I am referring to other people’s children, not to yours.] But there are also moments when some part of me wonders whether I am not only missing the biological boat but something I cannot even begin to imagine — an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to my senses, like a flatlander scoffing at the theoretical concept of sky.

Tim Krieder, in his essay, The Referendum – I first came across this when Austin Kleon mentioned it on his blog sometime and recently reread it. And, while I seem to be pounding this drum way too much lately, it’s clear that Facebook, Instagram et. al. only increase the opportunities for the sort of comparison Krieder describes. I don’t typically link to things I read online here (since once I start, it’ll be tough to stop, and I like to keep this space for books I read), but it is such a good essay I figured I’d break my usual rule.