Have you noticed, months after the murders, people are still split on the Watts case? Some say he was a shit and she was a saint, others blame her and say she drove him to cheat. A lot of these pronouncements are projections and transference made by folks who are married, or cheating [or both] or once were [married, cheating or both].

This means rather than an appreciation of the actual people involved [besides and apart from who you and I are] and what was going on in their hearts and minds, the crowds are really cheering for themselves.

But that’s not really what decent or intelligent true crime is about or tries to figure out. We’re not here to make sides, choose sides or pick a winner. We’re not here to feel better about ourselves or our sins. We’re simply here to figure out what the fuck happened. Believe it or not, that’s a very difficult question to answer accurately and authentically and very few even try. 

To do so takes time and effort. Fixing a fuck-up also takes time and effort. 

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One way to test our bias is to find an analogy to the Watts case where the people are completely different, but the situation is identical. I managed to find one. It’s an anecdote about infidelity from a woman’s advice column. No one was murdered in this scenario, but the pressure and intensity of the dynamic is nevertheless absolutely plain to see.

Read “Lala’s” salacious cautionary tale at this link.

A few obvious impressions we draw from the story are:

1. Cheating in our society is very common. When cheating leads to a child, a less common but deadly serious occurrence and one fraught with life changing consequences, it’s very difficult to know what to do, let alone to actually do the right thing.

2. Many of us learn the skill of duplicity in our society. Few learn the technique [or have the courage] to admit small mistakes, let alone admit to giant gut-wrenching betrayals of those closest to us.

3. We live in a society that is about maximizing profit and so it’s natural to want [or feel entitled to] the best possible deal for ourselves. This includes the mate we choose, the lifestyle we search and settle for, and the kind of sexual behavior we engage in. Sometimes in our desire for safety and security [the big house, the secure lifestyle] we make trade-offs in terms of the likability of our partners [or they do in terms of us]. 

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4. Our greed and materialism is also reflected in a desire for experiences. Once we have the treasure side of things sorted, we still want to be excited. We want to be stimulated. If our partners don’t give us what we want, we may feel tempted if not justified in getting what we want elsewhere. Does it do any harm if it’s a secret? 

5. In the same way that Lala got what she wanted from her husband, she didn’t like his approach to strict schedules. She felt bored and burdened. Being bored seems like a dumb reason to gamble one’s life, to risk one’s home, and yet people everywhere are doing it all the time. The reason? Boredom is like a living death. Risking an experience is like coming alive again. Everyone wants to feel alive, but feeling alive can come at a price.

6. Like Shan’ann, Lala’s husband Michael traveled often. Like Watts, Lala didn’t mind Michael being away as this gave her [him] a chance to indulge in her [his] Other Life.

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7. When the indulgence leads to a pregnancy, the original fairy tale becomes a nightmare. That’s why it is so hard to give up. Most people want to hold onto the fairy tale. And most people who believe in fairy tales don’t like to own up to being responsible for a nightmare that will end it. 

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8. When the nightmare is real, do you acknowledge it and deal with it, or do you refuse to believe it?

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9. If you could lose everything simply by saying a few words [the truth], by the same token you could save everything by simply not saying those words [lying].

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10. Even with expert advice, the outcome is not guaranteed, and the process is likely to be messy, let alone expensive, stressful and unpleasant. Still think you’re be the first one to own up to your sins?

If you’re cheating on your husband, and the infidelity leads to your falling pregnant, the answer is simple, right – just tell your husband what you did.

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It is actually that simple. If you’re not attached to your home, your lifestyle, many of your friends and possibly even your job, it’s as easy [and as difficult] as that. Just say what you did and possibly [probably] lose your home, your lifestyle, your friends [especially mutual friends] and possibly your job. 

The alternative is to be a coward and not to say anything. And you get to have your cake and eat it. Still think it’s so simple? Still think Chris Watts could have “just gotten a divorce”…?

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We swipe, tap and scroll through social media. There is an immediate sense of connection and, perhaps, the fear of missing out. All your pals and the ones you respect have an ever increasing level of stoke. In the 30 minutes I just spent (lost) here I witnessed skiing, climbing and living that, well, makes me feel all of the 56 years I am. I’m as guilty as anyone, perhaps more so. I curate my public life to highlight the highs and obscure the low points. It’s an ever increasing loop that feeds on itself. Alas the game of gravity plays for keeps. The risk of not returning is part of the allure. What would the sports we play be with out risk? Merely games? The down side is our family and friends don’t always make it back. Gravity always has the upper hand. When it plays its card too soon we all loose.For those left behind the pain begins. Was it worth it? Could it have been avoided? If you escaped the vice of gravity along side your bestie, why not me? What do I do next? I’m not one for cemeteries. When in Big Oak Flat I wander through the headstones of family long past, never known, yet part of who I am. I’ll refresh a few flowers and move on. In the mountains the these reminders are more poignant and powerful. The friends memorialized struggled with the “why” vs “consequence” paradigm just like we do. While walking through Dugla, the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier, a series of stone remembrances (chortens) are a stark reminder of how fleeting life is and how the pursuit of gravity has real consequences. Scott, Babu, Alex and Ueli are memorialized with stacked rock. If you’re ambling about, it’s a reminder that we carry our friends with us. How we carry our friends is up to us. Internalize it, over share it, laugh about it, ignore it or stew in anger over it. We go through all the points of the emotion wheel. It isn’t fun. If you are a serious about gravity, it’s not “if”, it’s “when”. When death strikes unexpectedly – be part of the community. Reach out to others and listen. The challenge of being a survivor could well be you. And if you’ve been there, lend your experience to others. We all heal.

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