If this and a few other posts over this week read as if they were conceived on the seat of a motorcycle and scrawled on scraps from maps, in lunchtime taverns across Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York—well, they were. —ed.
As I get older, the hardfast rules that I applied to life as a young man have all been broken, and most of them forgotten. But the guidelines that have been forged by experience are more and more useful. One of them is that I no longer spend time with people who feel contempt or envy or hatred for me—even if they like me or love me most of the time.
I once saw such relationships as a sign that I embraced the complexity of life. I now realize that life is complex enough surrounded by friends and family who do forgive my many faults. Complexity leads to perversion and degradation when I associate with people, even those I love, who fondle my shortcomings like their own genitals.
(The question arisess: Do I deserve to be resented? By my enemies, but not by my friends. And of course, I resent myself plenty: I think of my friend Bill Sweetland, who once refused to attend his own performance review on grounds that he and only he knows just what a slack and dishonest a worker he really is.)
My advice—which is as rare in my grown-up life as rules—is this: If you're friends with someone who loathes you sometimes—or even if you're married to that person—get away, and watch your whole life brighten up.