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Self-indulgence

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Why is the way ’round the barn so long?

Dr Bob rarely asks specific questions. Anything more pointed than “What’s your mood?” would be unusual; out of character. So he took me by surprise Friday morning with this one: “Are you self-indulgent?” That zinger was followed with a cautionary “…and you don’t have to answer right away.” I don’t need to admit my answer here—it was spontaneous and quick, by the way—but there was a follow-up query which morphed into a homework assignment. Damn, he’s good.

Indulgence is inherently no bad thing. For me it has been a double-edged sword, cutting when I do or don’t indulge, but especially when I do. The personal price I pay is often great, and that would be acceptable were there not considerable collateral fallout—sometimes for others, sometimes from them. Had I “world enough and time” an apology would be forthcoming; I’m working on it. Really. In the meantime, Dr Bob advises balance.

Agincourt is, of course, my ultimate indulgence. And invention has been its greatest, its most satisfying pleasure. But not, as you might guess, the invention of buildings and landscapes. No, I find the characters and their stories far more gratifying work. Not work at all, really.

Oddly, I had hoped for something else.

Henry Joseph Darger, Jr.

Perhaps not the ideal model for a citizen of Agincourt, Henry Darger has become a prototype nonetheless. Look him up.

I had lunch today in the Food Court at West Acres, our regional shopping center, and found myself among people who could just as easily have been from Agincourt. Over garlic beef and orange chicken, I wondered about that random sampling of my fellow creatures; about how diverse we are and how ever diverging. What wondrous eccentricities were represented there.

The distribution of a Darger or a Robert Walser is limited, but their presence in a Chicago neighborhood or a Swiss bank changed a life or two, even if it didn’t, couldn’t change their own.

The trip ’round the barn is long but worth the investment. And it is long in time, not distance, because there are so many wondrous distractions along the way.

Now, about that apology….


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