Sometimes Ignorance Leads To Innovation
There's something our younger generation is afflicted with and I like to call it perpetual student syndrome. I'll try to find a better name for it. Another version of this affliction might be called hero-worship. But what I'm talking about isn't quite hero-worship.
Admittedly I bring it up because I'm guilty of it my self. Not so much that I am constantly reading biographies of people I admire. Biographies are dreadfully boring and tend to amplify some of the uglier aspects of a person's life because people think that's juicier. Ultimately a biographer is just another writer, someone who is trying to be read. My point is I'd rather not know about an artist's life and just appreciate how they contribute to the form, either through their work or what they have to say about it by virtue of their experience.
In that sense, I felt ok about picking up a little gem called My Lunches With Orson. Which isn't a biography, just a series of printed conversations that the actor Henry Jaglom had with Orson Welles at Welles' favorite restaurant toward the end of his life. It's illuminating in surprising ways, and it's where I got this idea about "perpetual student syndrome."
For those who don't know, Orson Welles is one of the most iconic actors and radio/film/theatre makers of the twentieth century. His film Citizen Kane which he helped write, direct, and star in is considered one of if not the greatest film of all time.
The conversations in My Lunches With Orson are again, illuminating. For one, Orson Welles is incredibly erudite and has compelling perspectives on history and literature.
But aside from that, something that really struck me was his attitude to movie-making all together. Here's a quote from the book:
"I don't read books on film at all, or theater. I'm not very interested in movies. I keep telling people that, and they don't believe me. I genuinely am not very interested! For me, it's only interesting to do. You know, I'm not interested in other filmmakers--and that's a terribly arrogant thing to say--or in the medium. It's the least interesting art medium for me to watch that there is. Except ballet--that's the only thing less interesting. I just like to make movies, you know? And that's the truth! But I do know quite a bit about early movies, because I was interested in movies before I made them. And I was interested in the theater before I went to it. There is something in me that turns off once I start to do it myself. It's some weakness. In other words, I read everything about the theater before I became a theater director. After that, I never went to plays or read anything. Same thing with movies. I believe that I was threatened, personally threatened, by every other movie, and by every criticism--that it would affect the purity of my vision. And I think the younger generation of filmmakers has seen too many movies."
I emphasize those last two sentences because it's the point I want to make.
If you're my age or older and have been an amateur for at least as long as I have, you've seen enough movies/plays/read enough books to know what your tastes are. Perhaps you've seen too much; I know I can relate to that.
If your taste is like mine it's quite a demanding one. I know what I like and I know why I like it. The problem is, having such an ideal for what a movie or play or novel should be can be paralyzing for anyone who wants to make their own.
Around college and when I first began my acting career in the Bay Area--I was watching and reading everything. If I was in my own performance and couldn't watch other plays (which for better or worse was most of the time) I was catching late night showings in movie theaters. In periods when I was homeless the movie theater was a nice place to have an extended nap. But most of the time, I was taking everything in like a student.
Of course, watching other actors you learn a lot. And one learns quite a lot about what good dramatic writing is too. Often times I would listen to the dialogue and just imagine what it would look like on the page... what's the difference? Did it meet the script's intention in a surprising and compelling way? Was the original intention a good one to begin with?
Also one starts too look for little details like where the actor places their eyes and how intentional their movements are.
One does learn quite a lot from watching this way.
The other side of that coin is one starts comparing their own work to the work of others. Or tries to consciously employ the things they've seen others do. It's not quite imitation as it is an intellectualization of an essentially mysterious process. It's trying to make something that worked in one situation work completely outside the context it was intended for. Which is death for any artist.
It's also difficult to not want your own work to match the work that you really love. This can be a quite paralyzing feeling. And what's the use of trying to "learn" from others if one isn't going to strike out into the dark on their own?
There's an obnoxious habit among actors my age that is the fawning over who they perceive as "great." I'm not saying one shouldn't respect other's experience, or try to learn form them or take their advice.
But you're not an idiot. If it smells like bullshit, it's bullshit. A lot of times we'll watch a performance that is total shit and try to come up with reasons for why it's great just because we had already decided it was supposed to be great before we've even watched it.
I've been across actors with some of the best reputations in the community I've worked in. No doubt they earned those reputations some how, but often times I'll be working with them and can barely hold back the need to yell "would you please stop making so much of that damn line!" I'm sure no doubt other actors have felt this way about me too. That's one of the deals one makes when they become an actor; they are going to hate others and be hated by others for many irrational reasons. Just because someone is great in some projects doesn't mean they're always great.
My point is whether you're working with someone with experience or are experiencing the work of someone with experience, don't let the idea of their greatness infiltrate your own convictions.
When I'm on the set of a student film, it's heartbreaking when I watch the crew agonize over a scene set in, say, an office because they're wondering "well, how would Martin Scorsese film an office?"
Why are you comparing yourself to someone like that? I don't ask because of how successful Martin Scorsese is; I ask because Martin Scorsese is not you.
Who knows? You might be better.
I also hate it when student filmmakers want to do a "master shot" only because they feel like they have to. It's their homework as opposed to something that will actually contribute to the project.
Do what you need to do to make the film/play/book, not the thing that will impress your teachers or the thing that your hero does a lot.
The truly illuminating thing about studying the work and process of those you admire is that you start to see that the true greats are the ones who held on to their individuality. Orson Welles rarely if ever did master shots and almost always only filmed what was going to be in the movie. He didn't cut; he didn't really edit.
I'm not advising anyone to go about movie making this way. I'm still in the process of learning myself. But this struck me because we're often told "Filmmaking is editing."
I still believe that, but at the end of the day that's only a platitude. It's a truism but not a truth that must always be applied.
Techniques and education are important. But not if they become a prescription which squashes out the essential artistic impulse.
The artistic impulse is always about breaking the rules.
In fact, let me rephrase that. Because there are no rules to begin with. Rules apply to decent society not to the life of a poet (or actor or writer or filmmaker).
One does learn a great deal from studying what came before. One really does. I'm not advocating against this.
But those who came before us; those who's shoulders we supposedly stand on didn't make their art for us to study it. What a dreadful intention. They made their art for us to enjoy it. To be entertained by it. To gain an insight about our lives. Not to make an ultimately futile attempt to intellectually grasp that which attempts to make the mysterious concrete.
In the end, we are only witnessing the attempts of others. Not the solution. One should go to the theatre or pick up a book for one reason and one reason only--to enjoy it. To accept the artists' gift of seeing a world that no one else saw before they wrote it down and/or performed it.
The only thing one can actually "learn" from that is how to have the courage to do what that artist did. Which isn't to employ the form and execution which has already been invented, but to have the mindset and discipline to make their own form all together.
Behind every story is the story of the one who told that story. They were able to tell that story because they were in touch with who they are in their own unique way.
They were innocent and stupid. They figured things out as they went along. They invented new methods without knowing they were inventing them.
In fact, there is a great interview where Orson Welles talks about being completely ignorant about lighting techniques while working on Citizen Kane. Just watch the first two minutes of this clip, here:
Get to the part where he says "I didn't know what you couldn't do. I didn't deliberately set out to invent anything. It just seemed to me 'why not?' There is a great gift that ignorance has to bring to anything, you know. That was the gift I brought to Citizen Kane... ignorance."
Now of course this raises as many questions as it answers. Who is the real innovator here? Orson Welles? Or Gregg Toland the technician who had mastered many camera and lighting techniques for movies?
The symbioses of Toland's technical mastery combined with Welles' limitless and untainted curiosity is what made so many great frames in Citizen Kane. Of course, you need your Toland as much as you need your Welles.
And within yourself you need a spirit of ignorance along with a rigorous attention to technical detail.
But too often the need to study begins to overwhelm the need to discover. And ultimately, what an actor or writer does is not something that if a certain pattern is consistently applied to it, the same quality and results will emerge. There is a mystery at the heart of it all. And the hardest part is throwing away all the notes and techniques and preparation and finally actually creating something.
So please continue dissecting the technical intricacies of those who's work you admire, if that's what you truly enjoy. Just know that it's not the same as being an artist.
It Has A Deeply Ingrained Purpose
One of my favorite stories in The Arabian Nights is the one about a young man who goes to a wedding feast. It's the most anticipated wedding feast in the entire village and everyone is acting their best. The mullah arrives to say a few prayers and everyone goes absolutely silent; the mullah lets rip the loudest fart in the history of farts.
The mullah, embarrassed out of his mind runs away. He steals a camel and rides out of the village; out of the kingdom all together and goes all the way to the other side of the world. In his new life he finds years of prosperity. And now old and rich, he takes a huge caravan and finally returns to his old village. As he approaches with his caravan, some women are working in the fields; they look up and say, "look, there's the man who farted at the wedding."
Embarrassment lives with us longer than anything else. It is crueler to reprimand your child in front of the other kids than it is to actually beat them at home.
That's a big statement, I know. And I'm not a child psychologist or an anthropologist, but speaking from my experience there is nothing more life crushing than being humiliated in front of your peers.
Shame can have incredibly damaging effects.
But that is only because its positive function is so deeply ingrained within us and so necessary.
The good thing about shame is that if used to proper affect it can mean spurring one to positive action.
This is where it helps (or doesn't help) to be a man. Again, I'm not coming at this from a scientific perspective just speaking from my experience.
Women tend to get over things a lot quicker. Their evolutionary stakes are higher. They have to maintain their physical and psychological well-being in ways men can't fathom. So when they experience some embarrassment they bounce back a lot quicker because they have more important things to consider than what others think about them. They're thinking about what's good for the whole, rather than what's good for themselves.
Men internalize things more. I know I do. When we fail in front of others or repeat mistakes we tend to feel guilty and to self-flagellate.
Maybe its because growing up we were taught that no one cares what happens to our bodies or to our emotions. Who knows what the excuse is these days. If something doesn't apply to you, you don't have to acknowledge it just because it is the accepted narrative. Living is far more complex than the stories people project on one another based on what they heard someone in a TED talk say.
We should listen to people with expertise and knowledge, but only when we know how to listen to ourselves first. We can't accept everything that's being spoon fed by someone who we listen to. In the end, we actually listen to someone not because of their expertise but because they know how to tell a good story.
Anyway, let's say that this narrative about boys who skip the transition to becoming men is true... what are you going to do about it is the real question.
One can't hop into a time machine and tell every person in their life who told them to "suck it up" or "stop crying" to fuck off. Nor will the residual effect of childhood trauma wear off because you start talking about it all the time.
A fucked up childhood is the norm. How do we use its lessons to our advantage?
When Spartan warriors had to fight for their survival, any soldier that ran away from the battlefield was ridiculed by women in the city who danced around them in a mocking way. The warriors grew to fear that ridicule more than they feared their own deaths. Because shame was something they had to live with. Every society that at one point or another possessed a strong warrior ethos employed the methods of shame. The Muslim Ummah of seventh century Arabia was surrounded by tribes bent on their extermination and threatened by many treacherous elements within their ranks. The women and men who fought and died for that community did so out of a love for death; if they could not change a world where the oppression of slaves, orphans, and widows was the norm then they would rather leave this world than live with the shame of subscribing to such a system. In the system of the Ummah, the worldy tough guys of the old arabian system weren't told "don't cry;" they were encouraged to cry as a means of increasing their spiritual currency; these people had a reason to stop fearing death, why would they be afraid of openly crying? The only shame was in denying the truth that their world is corrupt.
Bastardized as it is within the prevalent comforts of western society, the predilection for shame goes back to a need to spur communities into urgent and fearless action.
"Dishonor not your mothers," is how Shakespeare put it in the dramatization of King Henry V.
I still find it hard to openly cry in front of people. I tend to go hide in the toilet and sob there about my shortcomings. The danger of this is that the feeling of shame becomes a habit and a masochistic addiction rather than something one can employ for their benefit.
I'm not saying one should sob and moan in front of their friends all the time. One wouldn't have very many friends after that. But anyone who has been on the deep end of shame; who has allowed their addictions to suck up time and energy that would be better spent pursuing their dreams or having quality time with loved ones knows that our monstrosity, no matter how private, is always affecting others even when they or (we) don't realize it.
It affects others by cheating them of your gifts and talents and of your time and your grace. Perhaps people think you're normal because you know how to put up a good front. But deep down you know you can do better, and that they're missing out on the real you. Which they deserve.
It would be best to stop covering up the shame. To stop hiding your mistakes. Seek professional help if you need it.
If you don't need it, then don't lie about what you're doing. If you need time alone to work on yourself (exercise, creativity, mindfulness) that is wonderful.
But stop making excuses to escape yourself and loved ones because you need to pop open that bottle or to have that regretful fling with the first person who says hello or go on to a social media rabbit hole that leaves you vastly more empty than you were before.
Easier said than done. But what might help, again, is employing shame for its original purpose.
Next time you're at the bottom of your mood, thinking "Fuck me. Seriously? Again, how many times do I have to..."
Hold on to that. Talk to someone who cares. Do what you need to do to make that feeling register. Write it down or record something on your phone or just sit with it.
The point is to know how to recall that feeling once and for all the next time the giant three headed dragon of temptation rears one of its ugly heads.
Use that memory recall as a sword to slice off its head. Of course the head will always grow back. And you'll need just as much strength the next time you have to face it, which is always sooner than you think.
But the point is you know you can beat it now. And you remember how. You just have to keep yourself from forgetting.
It takes training yourself.
It's The Only Way To Keep Moving Forward
In acting there is a phrase called "delaying the event." It's a technique where the actor does everything in their power to withhold any release of emotion until the moment in the play when it is absolutely necessary to let go. Every story has a moment where once a character reveals a piece of information or admits to something earth shattering, the story is over and the rest of the action is just cleaning up the mess that's been made. One basic "event" might be when a character says "I love you." After that exchange, nothing that transpires between those two characters can ever be the same and a new story begins.
If you watch a movie and a character says "I love you" fifteen minutes in and there's a big make out session followed by a sex scene you know you are watching a terrible movie. There is nothing, nothing interesting about watching two people kissing in the middle of a drama. It in fact should (and almost always does) signal the end of the play. Because any good love story is about what the characters can't do. It's about tension. But I digress.
Here's another example of an event: take Breaking Bad. The main event after all five chaotic, bloody, brilliant seasons is this simple exchange:
"Everything I've done--"
"Walter, if I hear one more time that you did all this for the family--"
"No. I did it for me. It was fun."
I'm playing that scene from memory. Not exactly how it went, but you get the idea. The moment Walter admits "I did it for me. It was fun" is the event. He spent five seasons hyperactively convincing himself that he became such a towering criminal for the sake of his family. The moment he admits the truth, the play is over.
The actor Bryan Cranston from then on knows that there is no more arc. There is no more urgency, just a sense of brutal resignation. At long last he can surrender to the wave of the story, as opposed to making order out of the immense chaos thrown at him by the writing team. The event is the moment the character stops fighting their fate. And all stories are about characters fighting their fate--battling the gods until the moment they absolutely can't anymore.
Phrased another way, the question becomes "what will it take?" What will it take for a character to finally admit their love? What will it take for Walter White to admit the truth? When an actor knows this, they've found one possible way into a character. And when a writer knows it, they have a solid event to build a narrative on.
But I'm not coming at this from a purely technical perspective on story telling--I wouldn't presume to. I'm simply regurgitating what I've been learning over the years as an actor and now presumably a writer. I am bringing this up because it might be helpful to think about how we as human beings "delay the event" in our own lives. And "what will it take" for us to finally admit the truth about ourselves.
In storytelling one must delay the event as long as possible, because people come to see drama not a moral lecture.
But in life, I don't recommend it. I speak to myself first. Admit that you love someone. Or hate them.
Admit that you're not buying a third, fourth, fifth round at the bar because you need to "recharge," you're doing it because it's fun. Which is fine. But do you stop when it stops being fun? Can you tell when it stops being fun? What will it take to admit that to yourself?
What will it take to stop acting like your family or your parents have to give approval for every action you take in life? What will it take to stop pretending that your friends are supporting your life journey and not being a crutch every time you feel obligated to respond to their need to "hang out."
What will it take to finally admit to yourself that you are in fact ambitious as hell? That you're not too young or old to be so. Not the wrong color or gender. Not born in the wrong time or have the wrong name or speak the wrong language.
What will it take to admit to the fact that if you're reading this, you are every bit as capable as you hope to be?
I don't want to give some inspirational speech. I just wanted to think about a technical aspect of strong drama that sheds some light about how we live our lives.
Honestly, as humans we can't help but delay the event. There are simply things we must go through, mistakes we must make, burnt and ugly roads we must follow before we know what our place in life is not. At one point or another something so monumental, so irresistible will come along that we will have no choice but to live the truth of our lives.
Or it won't. Which is the scary thing. And, I can't help you there.
But with some reflection and understanding; an honest and consistent examining of one's life, you might have a better chance of catching those moments where you are finally open to letting go of the lies in your life.
Drama is about the lie. At the end of the drama, the truth is revealed.
That doesn't mean that at the end of your drama, you die (unless that's what it has to mean), it means that this story of your life is over. And a new one can be begin--and in that story more lies will have to be uncovered.
I am just a work in progress figuring things out. Trying to move on to the next story, like an actor looking for the next job.
I know an actor who said once, "an actor's best job is his next one."
That is absolutely true.
Life is about finding the next story. Once you reveal the truth of one story move on to the next. There will always be a lie in your life worth defeating. Always be on the look out for the next story, until the day comes when you have no more stories to tell.
We Write Because The Current Times Have Failed Us
A history book written by a scholar who is an expert on a particular period might be especially concerned with facts. Though of course, no historian as much as they might try can deny their own interpretation of those facts. And most don't even try. Nevertheless, an empirical scholar of ancient Greece will have a different take on the Trojan war than the Iliad. And a scholar of ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia will have a different take on those civilizations than the Old Testament. Much different.
So why are those narratives more popular than any scholar's? Or why for example would I rather watch Shakespeare's dramatization of the War of the Roses or Henry V rather than actually troll for facts about the Plantagenets or the Bolingbrokes?
Or why would I rather enjoy these works of historical fiction rather than something that reflects my every day life?
The answer seems obvious. Is it because these narratives are inherently more entertaining? They are meant to transport us from are deathly polite understanding of the world and take us into a realm with larger than life figures experiencing larger than life dramas? Probably. But I venture it is something deeper.
I venture these narratives capture our imagination more because rather than reach for facts, or try to sensationalize what we've already experienced, they reach for the essence of a past we can't possibly ever know.
What is that essence?
Every civilization (or tribe) at one point or another faces a crisis of faith. A moment where they witness their own fall from grace; it takes the imaginative genius of artists to look into the past and witness those qualities about a society that make it worth existing.
Honor. Integrity. These are not abstract terms; they only become that way when we've lost the means of expressing them.
It is up to writers to look back at those times when those qualities could be expressed unironically and remind the people of today of who they were and what they can be.
This is why writers always supposedly "steal." Writers are not innovators. They are reminders.
To tell the story of Henry V or Harriet Tubman or Omar Ibn Al Khattab is not about getting the facts of their life straight. It's about capturing what those people meant. It's about capturing a time and a person whos honor and integrity was expressed forcefully.
It is not just historical fiction that we find this to be the case. But in religion as well.
Karen Armstrong, that all-encompassing genius scholar of religion, asserts that the Enlightenment's ideal for the "separation of church and state" was not about purifying matters of state from being corrupted by religious agendas, but to purify religion from the inherently corrupt agendas of the European state.
I mentioned the Greeks, who always concluded their dramas with ritual sacrifice. I mentioned the Old Testament.
Take the Qur'an. The Prophet Muhammad knew he wasn't inventing anything new. He not only admitted it, he insisted on reminding people of what came before--because the tribespeople of Arabia had lost their way. The Qur'an asserts itself as the word of god and not entertainment, despite being a linguistically groundbreaking phenomenon. Though I venture our understanding of "entertainment" (i.e. idleness) is not the original purpose of being entertaining.
Which speaks to another point. Writers and storytellers exist to revitalize impotent language. To entertain can actually mean encouraging development of our highest self, rather than embracing idle pleasure--if we allow it to. When a society no longer has the words to express high ideals honestly; when they subvert their expressions to irony and crass and debase themselves in their words and thus their actions, the only way to save them is to get them to look back at those times where people expressed their highest ideals wholeheartedly.
The writer or dramatist or storyteller who makes the past present and allows us to relinquish our need to fit into society by allowing us to indulge in immersion through a time when we imagine it was safe to express our highest ideals (though in reality, it could never be--then or now).
Or in its inverse, historical fiction allows us to indulge in debased times long gone that may allow us to heed the direction our current society is going.
And from those stories we are able to immerge with a renewed innocence and hope.
Despite what our actual influencers and so called "leaders" are doing.
"Catharsis" in Aristotle's Poetics is not about enjoying the actual act of purging our feelings. It's about allowing a release of our darkest impulses so that we don't unleash them onto society.
When we write and tell stories, we reach for something more whole than what the current times have allowed us. Perhaps the perpetual cycle of society is that we are never allowed to experience this wholeness. And that any time where we might experience it is wholeheartedly imagined.
All the more reason, then, to write.
It's Not About Telling Jokes. It's About Survival.
Be honest. You can't bear another minute on zoom. You can't stand cooking with your mother even though you're supposed to be "bonding." You know once and for all that your kids are complete shitbags. You're sick of hearing about the presidential debates; you dread knowing that you should vote even though statistically you probably never have. Your friends are a nuisance and you don't want to deal with them.
Don't Just say them to yourself. Make sure people know. You don't need to be contemptuous. You don't need to make light of things. And for goodness sake please don't be sarcastic; sarcasm is lazy and overrated.
Be humorous. Be honest in your own idiosyncratic way. It's something you have to figure out on your own. Because humor is about survival.
It will bring you closer to the people in your life in the most counterintuitive way.
A lot of people in my life now get that one of my quirks is being absurdly honest (not brutally, absurdly). I'll be on the phone with a friend who had just ranted to me for fifteen minutes; here's an example of how I respond.
Through the deafening silence, an audible inhale. And...
"Wow. I had doubted that you were a sad sack of shit. Then I heard that story."
And I really mean it.
And the person on the other line laughs. Hysterically.
Not nervously. Not piteously. Hysterically.
Because they are enlivened by the surprise of someone finally being honest with them.
Which is more than can be said about the people in our public sphere right now (if ever).
When I say things like that, it's not the words that matter. It's the timing. And the honesty.
And what better time to be honest than now?
Does this approach also involve risk?
And what better time to take risks than now? When it is clear that normalcy has failed us.
Everyone is so serious about the world right now. Understandable. But you should be more serious about finding your humor. In one of my favorite acting books (I'm an actor; I don't have a job; And that ain't funny neither!) Audition by Michael Shurtleff, the author says,
"Humor is not jokes. It is the attitude toward being alive without which you could have long ago jumped off the fifty-ninth street bridge. Humor is not being funny. It is the coin exchange between human beings that makes it possible for us to get through the day. Humor exists even in the humorless... When we say about a life situation, 'and it's not funny either,' we are attempting to inject humor into a situation that lacks it. We try in life to put humor everywhere; if we didn't, we couldn't bear to live."
You're telling too many jokes. This is no time to be funny. It's time to find humor. It's time to stop putting on airs or pretending that you feel a certain way when you're truly miserable. Be miserable. It's easy enough to tell yourself that all your feelings are "valid" while you're meditating (if you do that bullshit). But what about in the moment? Are your feelings valid then? Your feelings are never valid. But they are always the truth. And unfortunately we live in a society that invalidates the truth. So stop looking for so-called "validity."
Your feelings aren't always the best guide for what to do. But they are never wrong. And denying them is a sure road to hell.
The Hebrew Prophets were slain because they dissented against those priests who followed and prescribed external laws without obeying the law in their hearts.
That's why lust is a sin when you look at someone lustfully.
The Book of Jeremiah writes the ideal for god.
"They shall know me, for I will write my law in their inward parts."
Or written in the Qur'an
"Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or bring it to the open, god knows it."
That is to say that people are not obeying god's law until their inward desires are actually in line with it. That is to say the cannot obey god's law unless they want to.
That is to say that god's law is nothing short of being completely honest.
Humor is nothing short of being completely honest.
Being honest about your feelings--even the ones that make you completely hate someone (including god)--is the only way to survive the ones you think are causing you trouble.
If you believe in that bullshit, anyway.
Being honest with yourself; using humor you may guide yourself to feeling the way you actually want to. Hate can turn into an expression of love.
My grandparents are experts at this. Here's one beautiful exchange I witnessed:
GRANDPA: "I try never to give people a reason to be jealous of me."
GRANDMA: "Why on earth would people be jealous of you?"
GRANDPA: "I've had a good life."
GRANDMA: "No you haven't."
GRANDPA: "You're the one sore spot."
GRANDMA: "You old bastard."
They laugh. Hysterically.
They weren't being funny. They weren't joking. But they made each other laugh because they were honest.
And they made themselves, after fifty years of exclusive monogamy, that more bearable to each other.
Like Alan Watts puts it,
"We are just as much a part of the natural order as flames in the fire or stars in the sky. But this is only apparent to the person who is honest... in other words the person who is tied up in trying to pretend their feelings are other than they actually are. They can never see this. And they're always a trouble-maker. They are the original hypocrite."
Don't be a hypocrite. Be like a prophet. Find humor and tell the truth.
Yours and the rest of our survival depends on it.
If you believe in that bullshit, anyway.