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I grew up in New England and the way my mind works has never really left it. You see, whether you’re Catholic or not (we weren’t) a New England family inherits its principles - mainly guilt.
You learn very young that you are not really meant to enjoy anything. If you do, you will feel guilty about it. For instance, when I complained about a lunch my mom made me as a child, she would say something like “You don’t know how lucky you are - there are people starving everywhere.” She wasn’t wrong. But I was a stupid kid - how was I supposed to know about famines and genocides? Didn’t matter. It haunts me to this day. I bought a PS3 last month with money I earned and I still feel guilty about it. I look at it and I think “Wow I should have donated that to cancer research” or something like that but I play it anyway because New Englanders are also massive masochists. It’s involuntary.
Conversely, when I overappreciate success or am cocky, I feel wrong. So if I ever bought an expensive car I’d feel like a complete piece of shit driving by homeless people. So you grow up with an intense dislike of everything you do - no matter how you little you earn there are still people worse off than you and that is all you will think about forever.
It’s insane I know. Maybe this isn’t true for all New Englanders but it’s a deeply entrenched way of life, all the way back to the Puritans. They fucking hated EVERYTHING and enjoyed nothing. Put it this way, they landed on a cold and violent environment of rock and ice with nothing living and they DECIDED TO STAY THERE.
I’ve learned a good balance of things though being away from it. People say hello to each other here which is still weird to me and I don’t feel as bad when I buy a nice pair of shoes or complain about it being Monday (though I still feel awful).
You keep to yourself up there and you don’t want ANYONE telling you how to do things. You stay away from me and I’ll stay away from you. You can fuck pigs for all I care just don’t tell me how to live my life.
Connecting to that principle, Jusky (a fellow New Englander) told me a story about a man visiting New England in the winter and was trying to find his way into town. He saw a man who lived on the road he was on and asked him, “Is that the road into town?” He said, “Yes.” The man went along and couldn’t get up the hill so he drove back and asked the man, “Why didn’t you tell me this car couldn’t get up the road?” He replied, “I didn’t want to tell you your business.”
I will always be a New Englander at heart.
This is the New England that I knew. Not so sure it’s entirely Catholic. Remember: Massachusetts was founded by the Puritans. No, not “The Pilgrims,” the Puritans. The “Pilgrims” (anything but) began the Plymouth colony which ultimately failed, and was absorbed into the PURITAN “Massachusetts Bay” colony.
Two different colonies, and the one that survived was the “Massachusetts Bay” colony, the PURITANS.
Anyhow, much of New England’s well earned stoicism goes as far back to, and was inherited from, those Puritans.
Of, course, the Catholic guilt helps…
Addendum: Most of the rest of New England was founded by refugees from the Massachusetts Bay colony. Well, not Maine. Maine was part of Massachusetts until the 19th century.
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