So, yeah, (“soy,” I wrote, which is to say, I didn’t mean to say “soy” but the “y” snuck in there. The “why” snuck in — isn’t that always the case that the “why” sneaks in, at least mentally, and I wonder just why I’m doing something, and so often the answer that comes back is “because I have to — in order to keep my job, or to keep my house, or just to be a good person.” I have to keep my father-in-law living with us, spilling Pepsi all over …, because I want to do right by my wife, who wants to do what’s right by her dad. Sure, she feels filial piety — but also, what the hell else is there to do? I wonder if I’m at an age where I start being aware of how much I need the system — how I start to feel my fragility, or not “fragility,” really, but my vulnerability. I’m still feeling, seeming, strong, healthy, but I’m aware that that can be gone pretty damned fast.
[Later on in that day’s journals:] My father-in-law thought I said “f***ers” when I’d said “Rutgers” and, well, he’s not wrong. It seems sometimes like the universities are where there’s a level of sophisticated living — of the life of the mind. Of course, minds live in a lot of places, and minds don’t need tenure, either. Also, I thought today that it’s — that it shouldn’t have been a surprise that people in the country have taken irrational positions w/r/t politics and pandemic. It’s always been true that a lot of people one meets aren’t rational, you know?
[From school journal of Fr., 1 October 2021]