Knowing what we now know about the human brain and how it grows, that we entered this world not hating ourselves, thirsty to learn, we must believe this: Learning how to hate ourselves was merely one of countless things we could have learned. In those same hours we have devoted to self-loathing, we could have learned how to play the flute or repair clocks instead. The same brainpower we have poured into self-cutting, say, or anorexia could have been spent attending sailing school or inventing fluorescent toothpaste. But it was not. Of all the potential lessons in the world, self-loathing was just one. It was by random, tragic, potentially fatal accident that we found ourselves enrolled in Self-Loathing 101. In it, we learned: Have fear. Lose heart.
Because loners are born everywhere, we end up living everywhere. We do not, have not, tended to single ourselves out as special, elite, requiring rarefied environments. Too often we have done the opposite; lived where we lived because our jobs were there, or families, or because we'd heard the schools were good there, or that we would love a place with changing seasons. Then, no matter what, we put our noses to the grindstone. We take living there as a fait accompli, a fact. Too often we are miserable somewhere without realizing why. We blame ourselves for not buckling down, settling in, fitting in. The problem is the place, but too often we do not see this, we will not allow ourselves to see this. It's the same old thing: This is a friendly town, so what's your problem?...To the non-loner, or the self-reproaching loner, the fact of being a loner is not comparable to those other determinants. It is not a matter of life and death, we tell ourselves. It its not a matter of breathing or of execution by stoning. But home is the crucible of living...So how can living not be a matter of life and death?