Page 2 January 13, 2022 EL SEGUNDO HERALD
Your Neighborhood Therapist
Dear Neighborhood Therapist, Travel
I am thinking about the new year and
wondering why I don’t feel better. Last
year, things were worse in my world, but
I felt better than I do now. Now, things are
demonstrably better, but I feel worse. Why
is that? Why don’t I feel better?
– Strangely Sad, El Segundo
Dear Strangely Sad,
It’s never a bad time to remember that
we cannot separate the way we feel from
what’s going on around us. It’s just darn near
impossible. I would love to say we are all
captains of our ships, that we in total control
our own destinies, and that all our actions
or inactions have a direct effect on how our
lives turn out. But that’s just not true. Influential?
Sure. But what if an asteroid strikes?
What if a pandemic hits? Sudden personal
tragedy? Much of our life is out of our own
For most people, this is one of those times.
This time last year, big changes were happening.
This was a cause of great optimism
for many people. And big changes did indeed
happen, but the trauma of the pandemic is
not over, and that is extremely frustrating
to everyone I have met with. Dashed hopes,
exhaustion with requirements and disruptions
and uncertainty. You’re gassed. We’re
all gassed. Permission to feel mentally and
physically exhausted granted.
If things are going well “on paper” for
you but you still don’t feel well, it’s worth
remembering that the single best thing that
we can all do for our collective mental health
is to improve our community, which means
improving the lives of others around us.
That means everyone, even the people we
don’t know. Even the people we don’t agree
with. Even the people who are radically different
from us. Think about your neighbors
whose politics you disagree with. You both
chose to live in the same community. That
means you probably value good schools, nice
weather, a proximity to the beach, nice parks,
a helpful library, a walkable Main Street,
community events. Think about the people
who live across town. They probably still
value the same things. What opportunities
are there to get to know them?
We’re pretty good at that in El Segundo.
Community engagement and pride are high.
But we can always do better.
Trust me, it’s worth it. My job is to get to
know people. And in doing so, I have never
liked anyone less the more I got to know
them and how they face life’s challenges.
Tough times never go away for everyone.
But we humans are really, really good at
adapting. It’s what we do best, and we’ll
continue to do so. Working to make the lives
of strangers better is one of the best things we
can do for ourselves, so go help a stranger in
El Segundo whose life on paper isn’t going
as well as yours. You may find that doing
so helps accelerate the adaptation process.
Please write to tom@tomandrecounseling.
com or text to 310.776.5299 with questions
about handling what is affecting your life,
your family, the community or the world.
Tom Andre is a Licensed Marriage & Family
Therapist (LMFT119254). The information
in this column is for educational purposes
only and nothing herein should be construed
as professional advice or the formation of a
therapeutic relationship. •
“This is a new year. A new beginning.
And things will change.”
– Taylor Swift
Article and photos
by Ben & Glinda Shipley
In 1940, when Adolf Hitler arrived to play
tourist in the newly conquered city of Paris, his
favorite photo op took him to the Left Bank
and the massive dome of Les Invalides, gazing
down at the tomb of the nineteenth-century
French Emperor, Napoléon Bonaparte. It was
the greatest moment of Hitler’s life—he would
later say—when he finally came face-to-tomb
with his spiritual idol.
Childhood in Ajaccio—Mama Letizia’s little big man with all
Today, most would agree that Hitler’s legacy
has vanished into nothing more than a dirty
stain on the pages of history. There are no
monuments to his military victories, because
they all eventually ended in failure. His legal
code dissolved into a nightmare of thuggery
and opportunism, and his squeaky-clean social
revolution lost all credibility in the snows of
Stalingrad and the ovens of Auschwitz. You can
travel virtually anywhere Hitler conquered—or
came to play tourist—and you’d be hard-pressed
to find a trace of the man.
In the nineteenth century, on the other hand,
it can be argued that Europe made the modern
world; that the French, more than anyone, made
Europe; and that Napoléon made the French.
Most famously, there were the military
victories and Napoléon’s complete re-write
of the laws of military strategy. There was his
destruction of the guilds and feudal systems
that had stifled invention and commercial
competition since the Middle Ages. There
was the common-sense Napoleonic legal code
that, even today, governs a huge chunk of the
planet. There was the fervor of nationalism
that, for better or worse, has become the key
to world governance. But mostly, there was
the sense that individual merit—and not birth
or class—should be the sole determinant of
a human being’s worth and social mobility.
Not that everyone remembers the Emperor
so fondly. From the minute the Mob stormed
the Paris Bastille on July 14, 1789, they set
off a wave of war, revolution, and terror that
would engulf all five continents well into the
twentieth century. The British, Austrian, and
Russian aristocracies threw everything they
had into holding back the modern era, and
if it wasn’t for Napoléon, they might have
succeeded. This is the reason the Emperor’s
sarcophagus at Les Invalides—fashioned from
huge blocks of Russian quartzite and French
granite and marble—feels a bit gaudy and
overdone to celebrate a mere human being—yet
woefully inadequate to memorialize the impact
of Napoléon Bonaparte.
So… What about the human being at the
eye of this hurricane of energy? Who, what,
and where was he? How can we as travelers
get a feeling for the ages that made him and
the forces he encountered, latched onto, commanded,
and unleashed? After growing up in
the shadows of Waterloo, we’ve spent a lifetime
chasing Napoléon’s story through the ancient
Europe he disrupted and the modern world he
did so much to create. A handful of the many
stops along the way:
The neighborhood where Napoléon was born
into a large and happy bourgeois family was
anything but uncomfortable. But it was much
too small, dull, and conventional for a man of
his talents. Once Napoléon became Emperor, he
sent plenty of money and public works home,
but never gave a thought to returning himself.
The first test of Napoléon’s organizational
genius, which he passed with spectacular results.
See Travel, page 11
Ambition in Paris—third-floor walk-up and a junior officer’s
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