Dialogue on fears of romance at 6 am

Self: Why are you so hesitant about a potential romantic relationship?

Inner self: Because I don’t trust women, they’ve hurt me.

Self: Dig deeper, that is a surface answer only.

Inner self: I’m afraid because I gave myself completely once and she did not treat my heart with care. Conceptually, I’m stuck between “no relationship” and “relationship but no control and unlimited potential for hurt” and while the first is not ideal the second is terrifying.

Self: But you love yourself?

Inner self: Yes, I do. There are things I’m still working on, as is the case for any human, but I like who I am at the core.

Self: Then what are you waiting on?

Inner self: I don’t know. I feel a bit like Steve Carrel in 40 year old virgin, where he says “I respect women, I respect them so much that I avoid them completely.”

Self: Answer, what are you waiting on?

Inner self: I guess I feel like I am waiting on the right kind of person to show up. It sounds cliched.

Self: Good things take work. But work does not always make them obvious, sometimes you have to seek them out.

Inner self: Yes, but part of my problem is that I’m sick of the standard power structures between men and women. For example, a friend of mine told me that someone I know likes me and would go out with me, but that I should be assertive because she is hesitant. That frustrates me, because I did make an effort previously and while I value clarity and try to practice it I don’t like the idea that “it’s the man’s job to start/direct things.” I feel that the kind of woman I would like to spend time with would reject that notion. Is that fair?

Self: Certainly. But it does not excuse you from making any effort.

Advertisements

Year of questions: What’s sexy?

There’s a pretty interesting conversation going on over at the Good Men Project that has implications for men as we begin to feel more comfortable / open up about our inner lives.

You can get a full picture of the conversation here –> http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/megasahd-the-dark-side-of-womens-requests-of-progressive-men/

The short version is this basic question/premise: are there are drawbacks to the relationship between men and women when a man opens up? E.g. will women find us less attractive, or lose respect for us.

Which got me to thinking, what’s so sexy about traditional male models? Or women? Or anyone for that matter?

First, I do want to point out that the conversation on the thread above is somewhat hetero-normative focused. I think the question gets even more interesting when you expand the conversation to include gays/lesbians, transsexuals/those who identify with opposite or mixed genders, people invested in poly-amorous relationships, etc… I’m not particularly qualified to address most of those perspectives, so I’d be interested to hear how other people look at it (and answer the question of what’s sexy).

From where I sit (again, fairly hetero-normative, or shorthand for “straight, but not narrow”) women that I’ve met / know seem to want it both ways.  Sexy often translates to “surprises me with flowers” or “is dark and mysterious” or “holds the door for me” and all sorts of other traditional markers. Let me be clear: I get that those are all fun things for women and I’m not advocating erasing them. But those are pretty low barriers to entry and don’t really involve a real evaluation of whether or not you’ll actually enjoy spending time with someone and/or experience growth (be it for a night, a couple of months, or years).

There’s a John Waters quote which roughly goes something like “if you go home with someone and they don’t have any books, don’t fuck ’em.”

I have a sort of variation on that myself, which is that if you hang out with someone and find that they have no driving passions, then you should get the hell out of there as quick as you can. Frankly, the same goes for friendships. Maybe they’re just on some different path, or it’ll take longer for them to truly get invested in their own life, but I prefer not to waste my time.

Anyway, the concept leads to how I would answer the question of what’s sexy, which is: a) when someone is passionate about their life and b) not required, but awesome when they can communicate that passion and are interested in your passions also.

For me, someone who demonstrates an interest in honest communication and willingness to be thoughtful about their inner life and share that with someone else, that’s about as sexy as it gets in my book.

So what’s sexy to you?

Year of Questions: Why do we strangle the things we love?

At a ‘zine reading the other night a friend read a story about an aloe vera plant that she neglected to water until it was grey, brown and orange. She described the hesitation to throw it out, and how she kept watering it and slowly over time it came back but she couldn’t bear to clear out the old growth, instead leaving a nest of sorts for the new aloe vera.

Out hiking today in the desert of Southern New Mexico I was reminded of how this is a largely human ethic. Disintegrating cactus, brush, and the occasional skull serve notice of the quickly changing environment and seasons. The cycle of life and death is constantly in motion.

This may be why modern humans handle death so poorly, we have an idea that if we can just keep everything as it is our lives will never change. I think it also answers at least part of the question of why we strangle, smother, and otherwise demand stasis from the things and people in our lives.

Forgiveness

I forgive myself for failing at marriage.

I forgive myself for my mom’s death.

I forgive myself for not being present in my life the last few years.

I forgive myself for being in control all the time and for closing my heart as a result.

I forgive myself for being angry.

I forgive myself for not having the same empathy and understanding for myself that I have for others.

I forgive myself for treating my body poorly, and not listening when I should.

I forgive myself for not being good enough.

I forgive myself for feeling helpless about my dad’s situation.

I forgive myself for not being a better person.

I forgive myself for being critical.

I forgive myself for being scared of love and thinking I can control how and when it enters my life.

I forgive myself for refusing kindness from people who want to aid me in my journey.

I forgive myself for the tendency to always take everything on.

I forgive myself for when I have been flaky because of the above tendency.

I forgive myself for forgetting that I am always responsible for my own life and its narrative.

Year of questions: How do you create a magical moment?

Talking with a friend last night about music, we got into a discussion about how magic works in our lives.

He’s had a rough couple of months caused by a car accident that’s affected both his mind and body. He described leaving the hospital recently after a barrage of tests, and having to lie down on a patch of grass immediately to ground himself. At that moment, clarity arrived, a kind of turning point in his recovery, just by the simple act of reconnecting to even the smallest piece of earth. We also talked about how we listen to music, and both of those things got me thinking about the constant struggle in our lives to account for moments that happen by luck or by fate.

One feature of American culture is this idea people have that “magical moments will happen” and often there’s a kind of encouraged blindness that’s supposed to create the appropriate setting. As if by not being deliberate in your life at all you will somehow be struck by lightning and your life changed forever. This comes out regularly in books, movies, magazines, etc… when romantic relationships are described.

The problem with the idea is it ignores that the vast majority of good and useful things in life take hard work, constant learning, re-shaping, and failure. My day job is project management, where I’m expected to manage every detail and make sure there aren’t any surprises. Frankly, it’s not a magical job (Hogwarts joke here). I don’t think that should be how we personally approach our lives,  but I also don’t think we should leave everything up to chance. Inspiring / magical moments occur because someone undertook hard work (whether they knew it or not) and aligned everything, and then let go of it and allowed what needed to happen, happen.

Year of questions: Are there fundamentally different “kinds” of people?

I just finished reading Book of Sighs by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo. In it he draws two parallel sets of characters, one which seeks adventure and questions the immediate environment and another that seems to desire routine and an environment that is well defined.

It’s something I’ve noticed for a long time, but have been unable to articulate / address. I’m a live and let live kind of person, and I understand that people have different ways of being happy and making meaning in the world around them. I’m also focused on constantly questioning and re-shaping my world, which clearly puts me in the first category.

Some of the people around me fit into the two categories and there are a few that are somewhere in between. My mom, who I am the most like of anyone in my family, was also an adventurer / thinker / questioner. We share the same sensibility and desire to understand the world around us. In an odd coincidence, both my dad and my ex-wife are similar in their belonging to the routine/defined environment group.

What is less clear to me is the relationship between those two sets. Sometimes they fill a clear need for each other (the adventurous types need  stability and vice versa) but I wonder about how compatible they truly are. Does it work on some level but not another? E.g. friends or co-workers vs. spouse/significant other…I’m not sure there’s an exact answer but in my life and in the life of many people I know it seems to make for unhappy people. The “routine” people find themselves insecure and constantly worried by the adventure and questioning, and the “adventurers” are deeply unhappy in a situation that feels rote.

Year of questions: What about people who don’t want to have children?

Are they just denying biology?

I’ve met people who seem fine, probably better off without kids. Then again, there are plenty of people out there who feel that having children is the ultimate goal for humans, which I think personally is kind of a short sighted attitude. But I do wonder if we’re supposed to all have children, or is there some genetic group that just doesn’t want or need them.