How gauche and weak becomes the winged traveler!
How weak and awkward, even comical
He who was but lately so adroit!

–From “The Albatross” by Baudelaire

“There is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide,” wrote Albert Camus beginning The Myth of Sisyphus.

The First Man speaks: “You and I are of the same generation—baby boomers. We always had an eye toward the future and grew up in a certain abundance that our parents didn’t have growing up. In other words we had the luxury of questioning the meaning of life and putting our own self-fulfillment in the front row. We asked what gift will life give to me now, not what life was asking of me. Did you or I ever have to abandon this futile abstract question and truly substitute the concrete problems life can pose? I mean real problems.”

The Second Man speaks: “After my mother died, natural causes, kidneys finally stopped working, a still radiant ninety-five, I sold my house and moved into hers. I had been kind of a caregiver anyway for the last couple of years. It’s the house where I grew up. I finally set myself to start going through all the years of accumulation, over sixty years, a good deal of it is still in cartons, in drawers, in closets, and there was a box of baby shoes of the three brothers. My mother had saved a pair from each of us. The arc of our lives, from my oldest brother to now. Almost seventy-five years. I thought, from there to here. I can’t describe how profoundly in that moment this discovery impacted me, something beautiful yet indescribably sad. I left the box exactly where I found it with no desire to open the dozens of photo albums lined up on shelves, decades of them, to be reminded of our youth. Oh, I’ll get over it.”

[Continued in Confrontation 117]

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