The root of fearby Paul Broks / May 20, 2002 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2002 issue of Prospect Magazine
I am in a church. It was once a church, anyway. Now it’s a university building. I’m here for a neuroscience symposium and people are milling around taking coffee before the final morning session. I keep an eye on the time because I’m presenting a paper.
The programme has reunited me with two colleagues from my postgraduate days. I haven’t seen them for 20 years. We stand in a triangle. Mundane facts of biography slot together as planks in the conversational platform. We all have wives and children and dogs. Rick affects embarrassment. So bourgeois. Why haven’t we had more interesting lives? “You don’t like commitment, you get married. You don’t want kids, they take over your life. You get a dog, you’re forever scooping shit into plastic bags.” Steve and I concur, but we don’t mean it either. Steve has been ten years in the US. His voice follows mid-Atlantic contours. “I guess the myth of romantic love is where the rot sets in,” he says. “If you let it.” Life and relationships are more random than we think but in the end most of us fall into a pattern. With whom, it doesn’t much matter. It’s the pattern that counts.