"What people find out in time” writes Meg Greenfield, “is that the false self they are inhabiting isn’t much of a friend after all. Nor is it any great shakes as a refuge or consolation. They begin to live lives of pantomime, in which gesture is all. They spend more and more time attending social functions with ‘friends’ they don’t much like, smiling when they want to frown or yell or tell someone off.”
Greenfield’s description of the plight of contemporary politicians in her essay “Mavericks and Image-Makers” (in her book Washington) is as unpleasant as it is unsettling. It is unpleasant to imagine anyone living such a life of pantomime. It is unsettling to realize that her description isn’t just true for politicians, but portrays the loneliness of many accomplished people who live public lives—including clergy.