I’m in Portland, OR right now. I came here to try to absorb by some osmotic process the local culture of self-cultivation, people engaging in projects not because the projects are useful or justified, but because they want to. People living out their aesthetic vision for their lives. But when I got here, I found that it is not Rivendell, where lonely Elf-friends can heal their wounds, but the Shire. You can visit and be welcome, but you won’t really be a part of it. It’s not Elfsongs and stories and public feasts, but people living out their private lives in communities. You can visit a person in Portland, but you can’t really visit Portland.
I used to think that resisting temptation was the way to be strong, or a sign of strength. People of strong will could get what they wanted only by mastering their basic drives. Intent only mattered if it could overpower desire. But the problem with resisting temptation is that you don’t get what you’re tempted by. You don’t get what you want. If you’re good enough at resisting temptation, you may not even remember that you want it.