Is a novel drained of meaning in the last few chapters, I asked in the last post, but a novel so often ends with the characters marrying, or established in life, their life charted, the trajectory set. Life is so full of meaning when you are young because you are still making up the story of your life that later you live out. Full of meaning, and full of anxiety, because what if you make the wrong choices, and set up a trajectory you have to follow through into a life you make for yourself that you don’t want to live? You have to think that, if you never know what the consequences of a decision will be, then your future won’t depend on the choices you make so much as it will on how you respond to the outcomes you couldn’t have anticipated, that you will go on making choices all your life and you might as well think, for instance, of your marriage as an arranged marriage even if you arranged it yourself, when you were so much younger you might as well have been someone else. This isn’t true, though, your future does depend on the choices you make, even if you do have to go on, and on, making more choices. Being more than halfway through my life now I am living through the consequences of decisions I made when I was young and exhilarated and wanted to be committed irrevocably to a path, almost any path, that I couldn’t turn back from. And now I cannot turn back, I cannot undo the consequences of choices I made, and I will never have the chance to make some of the choices I failed to make, I will never be able to live my twenties differently, and my children’s adolescent years can never be lived again, and I will never be able to have a dog as a child, an argument I knew made sense when I made it as a child to my parents who didn’t want to have a dog and always told me I could have as many dogs as I wanted when I grew up.
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These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.