The other day I was telling a friend about a person I admire. I summed it up by saying, “He is a man of many rooms.” My friend looked at me quizzically, and I tried to explain a concept that had come to me some years ago.
The idea emerged at a time I lived in a big three-story house and had kids to play with and dinners to cook and the occasional need to be alone. It seemed that different rooms required different roles and that filling those various roles enabled me to inhabit different parts of me.
The room with the fewest breakable parts became the place for play, the space where I could exercise the little kid in me, chasing my sons around, throwing Nerf balls at them, making them giggle, setting me happily free in other kingdoms. There was also a room with a fireplace and couches for the warm and cozy family times. There was a kitchen, dining room and a third-floor aerie where I could get in touch with the solitary me — listen to music, read poetry, daydream, maybe write. It was an escape hatch for the introvert, a weight room for the intellect, a refuge for the soul. Of course, I had a bedroom there, and a bathroom, sunporch and basement — each inviting a different expression of who I am or want to be.
It occurred to me then that people are at their best when all their rooms get used, when all aspects of their being get lived in. Some people go through life and certain rooms go neglected, get left empty. The door gets shut and no one goes there. We all know the feel of rooms left hollow and unlived in.
Sometimes some rooms get too much use, to the exclusion of others, until the house has pockets of activity but also those dark corners, the dank and musty spaces that scare you off or, at least, transform some houses into something out of balance.
“He is a man of many rooms,” I said, and what I admire is that he moves comfortably from room to room, living fully in each one. So he is a joy to be around. He is justly rich and multidimensional, interesting and fun. Warmth radiates from his house because all the rooms are full of life, every doorway leads to a pleasant surprise. And he invites you to each one. He can talk about baseball and dogs, Taoism and sociobiology, his daughter’s work and the meaning of Cool Hand Luke.
Sometimes I think of this analogy when I think of this magazine. I think what diverse and interesting stories get told here. They are stories that make you think, that alter the view, that demonstrate how textured life can be. In this issue alone we talk about Fighting Irish football and the history of the human race, job hunting and the search for the Real Presence of God, research into matters of life and death, and the ethical dilemmas that arise from such scientific inquiry. We talk about what’s going on at Notre Dame and in your lives, about people doing good and people wondering why.
It’s a magazine of many parts, for readers with many interests. I hope you enjoy this visit.