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Why Taking Chances is the Key to Happiness

Dear readers, these recent months have been tumultuous, for me and for many of those closest to me. My brief dismissal from – and subsequent reinstatement to – the ranks of the Kensington Chronicle has inspired me to look back on how much my personal and professional life has changed since we first launched the online edition of the Chronicle three years back. With that in mind, I’ve re-read all of the online editorials that I’ve written (with the exception of some of my recent pieces that don’t really fit that description). And this trip down memory lane has made me come to a startling realization: I had no conscious idea of how much of my life up to this point had been driven by fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. For a while, even fear of acceptance; specifically, with regards to my sexuality. On that front, we’ve born witness to incredible milestones, rousing opportunities to declare loudly and proudly that “love won.” But my biggest stumbling block in finding a romantic partner has not been my sexuality. While I’ve been alone for most of my life, and feared on some level that I’d end up that way, a part of me has also been afraid of falling in love in the first place. It’s taken me 30 years, give or take, to learn that it truly is better to have loved and lost; that rejections and setbacks are survivable, and are in fact the only way for us to grow as people, the only way to find that person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives. A proper paring truly does make two people better than the sum of their parts. I’ve seen it with my parents, George and Mary Darling. I’ve seen it with Wendy and Peter; Michael and Lily; and now, I think, with John Smee and myself.

John, woefully, has already found himself on the receiving end of my relationship hang-ups, and I am so grateful that he has elected to give me another chance. I realize now that the way I treated him in the aftermath of the Chronicle sale had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. And I’m happy to report that now that we’re over that hump, we’ve emerged all the stronger for it.

I’m also grateful for my siblings, Wendy and Michael. That sibling relationship can ebb and flow, but I now know that it will never break. As different as we are, they will well and truly always be my best friends. And that knowledge alone is enough to get me through even the most difficult of days.

In the past, I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes at the expense of every other aspect of my life. Now, this was in part because I’m a workaholic, and always will be; I’m simply wired that way. But it was also a way of distracting me from the other parts of my life that I found lacking; anything to avoid staring into the abyss of crippling loneliness that my self-imposed isolation was driving me inexorably closer to. But if I’ve learned anything from my recent brush with unemployment, and my blissful reconciliation with John Smee, it’s that being a newspaperman isn’t everything. Our jobs don’t have to solely define us, any more than our sexuality does. Being assistant editor in chief of the Kensington Chronicle is something I do. But John Darling is who I am.

I once wrote that “Growing up isn’t what it used to be.” And I do believe that our generation has some obstacles in our path that no prior generation has ever had to deal with, obstacles which at times can seem insurmountable. But I also believe that nothing is truly insurmountable. That we cannot allow fear, or a culture that undervalues us, to disillusion us into inaction. That we must be steadfast in our refusal to let anyone tell us what we can’t do, least of all ourselves; life is hard enough without putting roadblocks in our own path to happiness. We have to not get so hung up on finding “the one,” but at the same time be open to love when and where we find it. All at the same time striving for balance between all of these different pieces of our lives.

Growing up has never been easy. And it was never meant to be. But I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends and family with whom to muddle through it. And I couldn’t have asked for a more tolerant, nurturing, magical place to do it in than Neverland. I love you all, Neverlandians, each and every one; and every day, you find a way to remind me of just how much I am loved. As long as we all continue to fight for that feeling, then Love truly has won. And if people like us have anything to say about it, it always will.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 18, 2017

The Importance of Being George

In honor of Father’s Day this year, I thought it was long since time I wrote a piece on the man responsible for bringing you the Kensington Chronicle 7 days a week 52 weeks a year, my father and our editor in chief, George Darling. And how, if not for a chance meeting more than 30 years ago at the Neverland Train Station, I wouldn’t even be here.

As you can no doubt imagine, it takes a certain kind of person to run a newspaper day in and day out. George Darling is driven, organized, and knows how and when to delegate. But believe it or not, my father was not always the taskmaster he is today. Though George is loath to admit it himself, my grandfather, David Darling, has imparted to me on more than one occasion that in his formative years, my father was relatively aimless. David Darling saw his son’s potential, but feared that George was in danger of squandering it. George, for his part, wanted the freedom to make his own choices, and in those days, being groomed to take over the family business was the furthest thing from what he wanted.

David Darling was ultimately able to impress upon his son the importance of getting a college education, and George begrudgingly enrolled at Neverland University, from which he emerged four years later with a degree in English and Journalism. But this was far from the last time George and his father would engage in a heated debate about the direction of his life. Not long after graduating, George and David would have the most contentious fight of this kind to date. At an impasse, a furious George stormed off, intent on fleeing Neverland for parts unknown. But fate had other plans.

It just so happened that the woman working the ticket counter at the Neverland Train Station that fateful day was one Mary Davies. To hear my father tell it, once he locked eyes with Mary for the first time, the rest of the world faded away. She was the most beautiful creature George had ever laid eyes on, and from that moment forward, he never thought about leaving Neverland again.

For much of my life, I’ve harbored the belief that romantic entanglements are a distraction, at best. But in recent months, I’ve begun to revise that opinion. I’ve seen evidence of how the right pairing can create a union that is far greater than the sum of its parts. And this was absolutely the case with George and Mary Darling in the early years of their courtship. Now, starting a family was at the forefront of George’s mind, and he decided to put his journalism degree to good use. Much to David Darling’s relief, his son finally agreed to follow in his footsteps, and Grandfather could rest assured that the dynasty of Darlings at the helm of the Kensington Chronicle would continue, unabated.

And, of course, for my money, the most important result of the union of George and Mary Darling is their three children, myself and my siblings. I, personally, have been a newspaperman from the womb, and the paper will be in good hands when my father does decide to retire. So we at the Chronicle wish George Darling, and all of you other fathers out there, a very happy Father’s Day. We owe all of you a debt we can never possibly repay.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on June 22, 2015

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