You know, more and more I think that for many years I looked at life like a case at law, a series of proofs. When you're young you prove how brave you are, or smart; then, what a good lover; then, a good father; finally, how wise, or powerful or what-the-hell-ever. But underlying it all, I see now, there was a presumption. That I was moving on an upward path toward some elevation where – God knows what – I would be justified, or even condemned – a verdict anyway. I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day – and the bench was empty. No judge in sight. And all that remained was an endless argument with oneself – this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench.
My friend Daniel sends me these words he's read recently from Arthur Miller's After the Fall. And Daniel (who's not alone after two divorces as Miller was when writing) goes on to say (out of his own experiences) that
We all have a basic need to be justified or vindicated in some sense, especially in a relational sense. It gets at the heart of who we are. If I and my friend or my spouse have mutual trust and respect, we are justified to each other. We are right with each other. There may be disagreements and offenses, but we are on the same team and are allies who depend on each other.
To which Pindar says
Hesykhia (Tranquility), goddess of friendly intent, daughter of Dike (Justice), you who make cities great, holding the supreme keys of counsel and of wars
φιλόφρον Ἡσυχία, Δίκας ὦ μεγιστόπολι θύγατερ βουλᾶν τε καὶ πολέμων ἔχοισα κλαῗδας ὑπερτάτας
“Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.”