While I'm away, readers give the advice.
Learning to live with a deep loss
On longing for intimacy: Yes, it is true that we don't get everything in life, and it is true that we all have to learn to live with and appreciate what we do get, not rely upon others to make the core of us happy, etc.
But it really is very, very difficult. I am now moving into old age. I was married for a very long time to, and eventually divorced from, a man who did not value that part of life, or was not able to.
I was raised in a time when premarital intimacy was heavily censured, and I went along as did many women my age. I didn't get what I needed in my marriage, and it turned out there were few opportunities for an older, middle-aged woman after I divorced.
The longing has never left.
For all the excesses and misuses of sexuality in the modern world, I still think it is better than the severe restrictions on premarital sex and extramarital sex that some of us grew up with.
With a little experience, I might have chosen differently. If we married badly, and stayed married and followed the rules, then our chances for a different life were reduced.
I will mourn this loss forever. It is not assuaged by the successful career I have had, or the good society of friends I have, or the deeply meaningful community work I have done, or the more mature religious faith I finally developed.
I may not talk about it, I may not complain about it, I may not even let on to anyone else, but this deep, unsatisfied yearning is with me all the time.
Love is at the core of work
On ambition: Maybe folks need a review of the meaning of life.
It's no mystery; pretty much all major religions and most philosophies consider the meaning of life to be Love: Love your God, love your neighbor, love your family, love your community, love yourself, etc. Add many variations and permutations, but it all boils down to the same thing.
In this context, then, why do we work? Because it is the most loving thing to do. One works in order to (a) not burden anyone else; (b) provide for whomever in the family cannot work (for example, children); and (c) give back to society at least as much as one has received, preferably more.
A stay-at-home partner might still be considered to be working, if he or she is taking care of children who need that sort of extra attention (not all families being alike in their needs) and/or creating the sort of home environment that refreshes the breadwinner in ways that money just can't buy.
Therefore, the ideal way to evaluate the contributions someone makes is the degree to which the contributions show love for all concerned. What does ambition have to do with that? Isn't ambition essentially selfish? To score more points than somebody else, in terms of money or prestige? Isn't that rather abstract, compared to how much one nurtures one's family or how much one makes the world a better place?
I Work for a Loving