Love of Life
Anyway, one of his short stories, "The Love of Life" is about a man, a gold prospector, who is stranded in the Yukon wilderness, and manages to eventually get rescued. Here's how it ends:
Three weeks afterward the man lay in a bunk on the whale-ship Bedford, and with tears streaming down his wasted cheeks told who he was and what he had undergone. He also babbled incoherently of his mother, of sunny Southern California, and a home among the orange groves and flowers.
The days were not many after that when he sat at table with the scientific men and ship's officers. He gloated over the spectacle of so much food, watching it anxiously as it went into the mouths of others. With the disappearance of each mouthful an expression of deep regret came into his eyes. He was quite sane, yet he hated those men at meal-time. He was haunted by a fear that the food would not last. He inquired of the cook, the cabin-boy, the captain, concerning the food stores. They reassured him countless times; but he could not believe them, and pried cunningly about the lazarette to see with his own eyes.
It was noticed that the man was getting fat. He grew stouter with each day. The scientific men shook their heads and theorized. They limited the man at his meals, but still his girth increased and he swelled prodigiously under his shirt.
The sailors grinned. They knew. And when the scientific men set a watch on the man, they knew too. They saw him slouch for'ard after breakfast, and, like a mendicant, with outstretched palm, accost a sailor. The sailor grinned and passed him a fragment of sea biscuit. He clutched it avariciously, looked at it as a miser looks at gold, and thrust it into his shirt bosom. Similar were the donations from other grinning sailors. The scientific men were discreet. They let him alone. But they privily examined his bunk. It was lined with hardtack; the mattress was stuffed with hardtack; every nook and cranny was filled with hardtack. Yet he was sane. He was taking precautions against another possible famine -- that was all. He would recover from it, the scientific men said; and he did, ere the Bedford's anchor rumbled down in San Francisco Bay.
I am not well. I am the man in the story, except I am not sure I will recover. I make a good living, but I am constantly paranoid that it will not be enough, that all the stuff I have will disappear and I will not be be able to support my family, that I will be deemed a failure, that we will wind up on the street.
This is not completely baseless. Paying for my kids to go to Jewish dayschool is about the same as buying a new Lexus every year and pushing it off a cliff. My wife is not in a position to get a job and wont be for some time. My parents are old, not healthy, and will probably need a good bit of financial support soon. And the industry I am in is not really flourishing.
However, this fear is irrational and it is destroying my happiness, my wife's happiness, my health. But I cannot seem to escape it. I
meditateobsess on it all the time. To add insult to injury, I seem to not be able to take steps to improve my situation. Like the man in the story who knows that the food is there, but cannot stop hoarding it. This is not good.
I am not really comfortable sharing. I am not a "touchy-feely" guy. As a matter of fact, y'all should pretend that you didn't read this.