From the Editor

John Turner

We have a new puppy at our house for Christmas, which is definitely not a matter of international import. And, yet, he's quite engrossing.

He reminds me that the tug between the private and the public is always with us. I have tended to be a scold about people who don't pay enough attention to public affairs and thus allow ruthless politicians to deplete the commonwealth.  Still, I have to admit that if we don't nourish our private interests, life can become dank and bleary. After all, we supposedly get involved in public matters so we can live freely and sensibly with our private concerns.

Balance continues to be, as I suppose it always has been, the key to a good life.

The puppy is a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, which my daughter and her husband picked up from a breeder on Long Island on their way from Chicago.  He will be with us for two weeks until he is introduced to his permanent new home. He's a fetching little creature, nearly three months old and frisky but still wanting to be held quietly during a good part of the day.

This is the season when we cultivate private moments more than at any other time of the year. Families gather. Conversation drifts idly among people lolling in comfortable rooms while children play and pets sleep. And sometimes the grownups themselves doze. It doesn't seem to amount to much but, as we look back over our lives, it's moments like these which most often come swimming into memory. So they must mean something. They are the sort of events which are hard to describe to anyone who wasn't there. We don't have accurate words for the tone they infuse through the human sensibility.

I probably wonder more than is good for me about the meaning of the whole human enterprise.  But sometimes, even I recognize that most of the time being among the people you care about is the main thing of human existence.

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Harvard Square Commentary, December 18, 2006