"One of my greatest flaws is the need to regard myself as superior to those around me, and to position myself in such a way that they will feel it, too. Knowing full well that there are many different kinds of intelligence and that, besides, we are all ultimately dust and atoms under the aspect of eternity, I persist in wanting to view myself as the most intelligent person in social situations. That exaggerated self-regard undoubtedly colors my relationship with my brother in unhelpful ways. I insist on holding the 'wisdom' and 'maturity' cards, and on considering myself the more 'reflective.' But he overlooks it, perhaps because he is finally the more ample-spirited.

"Together we look forward to sharing all the pleasures of old age: nostalgia, illness, incontinence, senility, abandonment. We will not abandon each other, I hope, because the world is less lonely for me as long as my brother is in it. He has been, if not the most important relationship in my life, certainly one of the most defining. I have made it a point alternately to be like him or not to: either way, he has been my lodestar. I'll say more: he has been my personal metaphor for Life itself, in all its encompassing, onrushing urgency."