The grass is always greener on the other side

At New York Times, Tim Kreider wrote an extremely thought-provoking piece for us mortals, who ponder at least once a week about our lost opportunities and reincarnated life. Tim Kreider is a 40-ish, single cartoonist. He bemuses about "The Referendum," a syndrome to compare one's life with others and wonder "what if…"

It is not a new theme at all, isn't it? Then what made his article resonate with thousands or even millions of people, judged by the number of comments (660 as of October 4th)? I believe it is his candid approach and an enormous amount of actual experience weaved into the article; this guy have done it himself, that is what I (and they) felt. It is a massive quality assurance for an article about choices in our life. The only missing assurance here is the fact that he has never been married, so he doesn't know what awaits on the "other side." But he doesn't hide from that fact. In fact, not knowing about the life we didn't choose IS the focus of this article.

Here is my favorite quote. So many books and people recommend married life, but no one as far as I know preached its advantage from the below point of view.

Some of my married friends may envy my freedom in an abstract, daydreamy way, misremembering single life as some sort of pornographic smorgasbord, but I doubt many of them would actually choose to trade places with me. Although they may miss the thrill of sexual novelty, absolutely nobody misses dating.

I recommend reading the entire article, especially if you are enjoying (or suffering from) "arrested adolescence" as well as "the naked 3 am terror of regret" as Tim does. The equally candid comments are also worth reading. Apparently candidness is contagious, just like sneezing. Here is an example of such comments:

A friend of mine once told me “There’s that one moment in your life when you realize you’re old.” I found that it wasnt so much about my mortality — although that’s certainly been on my mind a lot of late — but the lost chances, the missed opportunities, that endless streams of what-ifs and why-didnt-i’s. And if you think they’re bad at 42, Tim, wait till you’re in your 50s and start to realize, for the very first time, *all* of the roads not taken and the lives never lived. Because most of my friends are childless, it doesnt hit till a bit later in life, but when it does — it hits you with a sledgehammer.

The article was originally mentioned in this Japanese blog.

P.S. His other columns are also great read. Please give them a try.