Saturday, August 23, 2014


Years ago, I saw the movie version of Out of Africa written by a Danish baroness under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen in 1937. One of the main things that struck me about it was the portrayal of life in colonial Kenya at that time: so many British men were gallivanting their nights away, contracting syphilis, and  dying promptly thereafter.

What strikes me now is that the so-called “rules of morality” may have developed less from strictness and more from the will to alive. I am new to the idea that there are best ways to live, ways that actually are better for people than ways that are not.

Two days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary, a rarity in America these days, and I do not say this to boast. We would never have reached our 43rd year without  several rehauls and more than occasional tune-ups. I say it in gratitude for fidelity, which may have come Out of Africa.

It has been challenging to accommodate change and growth at many points, but what security it has been to have a husband who has been faithful to me, who has cherished me no matter what, and will through the rest of our earthly life, as I will him.

Security is unreliable, I know -- stocks go up, and they go down; sometimes they are obliterated entirely. So is human effort, even the promise of fidelity. But what a gift it is, this thing fidelity. Nobody in this house is likely to die of an STD. 

Another way to put it would be to say that fidelity generates a secure feeling. Granted, feelings are not facts, but this I know: fidelity cradles us when everything else in life is whirling wildly. It is a gift -- a very good gift. Out of Africa?

 This photograph is by Liz Burnell.

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