From the December 1974 magazine.

Peter Pan Is Dead

The old fairy-tale concept of the happy ending takes on different meanings with the acceptance of reality

MY TROUBLES seemed to begin when I settled, permanently, to live in a small, insular Southern city, after having spent most of my life in and around New York City. For over two years now, I have been suffering from cultural shock. There are many ways in which I and my neighbors differ, and it has been hard to avoid feelings of alienation and loneliness. With these I wrestled, chiding myself for self-pity. In fact, during these years I have chided myself for everything--apathy one week, overwork the next, shyness yesterday, boldness today--you name it, I blamed myself for it. Because I had no charity toward myself, tolerance toward my fellows also was in short supply. I struggled between the Scylla of intolerance and the Charybdis of self-hate, finally to be sucked helplessly into the depths of depression.

The first ray of light came when I began to realize that my endless, unavailing struggle to determine who was right or wrong in this situation could never result in victory. There was no villain. There is nothing wrong in preferring philosophy to fishing or baking bread pudding to painting pictures--these are differences, not sins or virtues.

-- J. W.

Key West, Florida

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