Farewell to Paris

A contextual vignette: the Marché aux Puces. A flea market, obviously enough, but very permanent and a lot larger than the nonce phenomena that go by that name chez nous.
We missionaries didn’t spend a lot of time or money here, although one could, without half trying. I did come, once upon a D-day (probably when I took these photos), in search of a gift for Valerie, and maybe other stuff. Purchased a little antique locket in pink gold which she often wore, until it was stolen while we lived in Arlington.
January 4, 1964 (continued)—You see, whereas I wanted–as recently as three weeks ago–never to cease being The Editor, as it were, now I feel somehow very, very relieved at having the load off my shoulders and the pressure off my mind, and I’m delighted–NOW–to contemplate the fact that it is now Elder Gates who has to bear all that worry and responsibility. And, as I look back upon it, this is very much the attitude I had just about a year ago, when it was a matter of leaving Rennes. Never while there, aside from a time or two when I thought I was about to be shipped out, was I ever in the least degree dissatisfied with the conditions of that record-breaking long sojourn. But once I’d finally received my walking-papers, I was [264] suddenly very glad no longer to have to worry about the Church’s affairs in Rennes. I felt ashamed of these sentiments at the time; to be sure, they were clouded by my real grief at leaving those people I’d worked with so long. But the whole scene seems normal in retrospect, and particularly in relation to the present circumstances.

Not only is it normal, but it can be most useful to have a psychological mechanism that makes one satisfied with a situation until it changes, and then to be glad to be rid of the negative aspects of the old conditions, while still retaining an affectionate recollection of their pleasant facets.

Can’t say I know how universal this tendency might be, but, for those at least whom it affects, it would seem to me that there is an interesting connection between it and one’s attitude toward married life. Suppose, for example, that I were to be married to some one for this life only, with no plans for eternity. Things might go along just fine, [265] until the moment when the thought of death or divorce–for some random reason–should happen to enter my mind, thus introducing the idea that this married state would end sometime. At that moment, I would suddenly become acutely aware of all the negative aspects of wedded bliss, aspects which I might have long been accustomed to coexist with, either in resignation or in a state of honest oblivion. Awareness of these thorns would lead inevitably to their sharpening, and so forth in chain-reaction style to misery and separation and loneliness. …More, next page…
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