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What a week! The future king of England marries a poised and beautiful commoner, President Obama slaps the “birther” movement upside the head with his long form birth certificate, and U.S. forces fight their way into Osama Bin Laden’s fortified Pakistani hideout and assassinate the terrorist leader.


For our purposes this week, the love story that played out in Westminster Abbey is most instructive. For the most part, we 21st century earthlings are a jaded bunch. Despite our love of mythical adventures such as Harry Potter, we don’t believe much in Truth or chivalry. And we oppose inherited privilege. And yet, the marriage of His Royal Highness William Arthur Philip Louis to Kate Middleton made us hope, if not believe for a moment, that those of noble character not only exist, but sit on the highest seats in the land.

How do we know—or at least hope—that William and Kate are truly noble? We see it in the small gestures, such as the royal couple’s honest to goodness waves to the crowds (gone is the somewhat dismissive open-palmed gesture). We spot it in William’s faint blush after kissing his bride on the balcony of Buckingham palace. We’ve been encouraged over their long romance in the way that they keep their private lives private, and we hear it in their few, light-hearted public remarks about each other. For instance, when asked if she had kept posters of the young prince on her bedroom walls as a girl, Kate’s response, “He wishes!”

Anyone who can take the future king of England off of his pedestal and give us a peek at their flirtatious banter deserves a shot at being queen.

This week our focus is on privacy and how the best among us prize theirs. And because William and Kate have largely avoided the beguiling call of the media sirens, we believe just a little bit more in their nobility.

Remember that marvelous human beings are comfortable in their own skins. They don’t need affirmation from others even though they often get it, as William and Kate did from a global audience of some two billion souls. Being private, indeed being alone gives them and can give you a chance to better know your own heart. A strong self-awareness is how you begin to build independence—the kind of autonomy that not only propels you forward into the larger world but makes you less in need of affirmation about it.

I’m a man of words, so one place I found a great depiction of this escape into solitude and towards your own voice is in a poem—Mary Oliver’s “The Journey.” In this poem, Oliver describes the stormy break many of us have to make from dysfunctional families and hearing a “new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own.” I submit that you can’t hear that voice until you prize your own privacy and regularly spend time alone, with yourself.

Cheers from Sonoma,
Donald Van de Mark

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About the author

Donald Van de Mark
Donald Van de Mark is the author of The Good Among the Great: 19 Traits of the Most Admirable, Creative and Joyous People.

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