Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Safe Relationship Path

While discussing the concept of polyamory with a friend, she replied in typical monogamist think: "But where will the relationship go?" She was talking about  my secondary relationship: the person I see who I am not married to and don't live with.

Her question is a glowing beacon on the reason that our monogamous culture can't accept polyamory as a lifestyle. For them, relationships follow a pattern; they have to "go" somewhere. I was told when I was young that I would meet "the one" (presumably my soul mate) and fall in love, and date, and marry, and have kids and grow old with this all-encompassing completion of my soul in the form a living, breathing person. Talk about pressure. How does even the most willing of individuals live up to something like that?

How many beautiful, loving relationships end because one or both partners believe the relationship has to go somewhere? How often do movie couples split because one wants kids while the other feels compelled to see the world? Must be that they weren't "meant" for each other. This is what we're taught by Hollywood, books, our parents, the old lady down the street.

We are finally living in a society that questions religious beliefs like never before. Yet humanity seems to be stuck with this notion of "one and only forever." Relationships, whether they be friendships, romantic, sexual, take on forms of their own if we let them. And they're not permanent forms either. They're constantly in flux. Society doesn't place such stringent restrictions on our friendships. In fact, friendships span generations, time, space, race, and any other barrier. But if you want to be more than friends ... well, there's only one way to do that kind of relationship.

I suggest fear is the reason for humanity's inability to let go of this childhood fairy tale. Being vulnerable with a lover is so much more dangerous (we think) than with a friend. So, if I'm going to submit myself to the possibility of being truly vulnerable with someone, then it's going to be within the safe, predictable environment of "the right path." This way I can't get hurt, at least that's what we think.

We all know how it ends though. Rarely do people who start out on this path make it to the "growing old together"  stage. (Kudos to those who do. But I hope you did it out of joy and not obligation.) No, people get divorced, they have affairs, they break up, they end up in jail for domestic violence. This is a safer way to be vulnerable?

The truth is there is no safe way to be vulnerable with another human being. That's what makes it so beautiful, wonderful. You take the chance and you fly or you fall. In the end, that's what makes it all worth it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Evil People?

In creating the human raceI did achieve perfection;a perfection of balancebetween the forces driving it toward good, and those driving it toward evil.+Last Testament: A Memoir by GOD 

Though this was meant as a humorous statement, most Christian doctrine would agree. Or worse, that man was created entirely evil, seeped in sin, as it were. The only way to achieve even an ounce of goodness is through God's most gracious gesture, the murder of his son. 

I would argue that it is unfair for god to expect us to be good little boys and girls when he created us balanced between good and evil. It's like saying, "Here, I've created you with only one leg, but if you really want to please me, I need you to learn to run really fast."

Not that I really believe in "good" and "evil" as concepts. It's one of the big religious paradoxes I have never been able to put on blinders to: "Here's all these enjoyable things I created and I've given you a body capable of enjoying them. But if you really love me (meaning: God), if you really want to be a worthwhile (read: holy) person, then I want you to not enjoy them." What?! Might as well ask "evil" lions to stop eating prey, or beavers to stop building dams, etc. Alright, I think I've beaten this dead horse ..

A friend of mine argued that being overly attached to ego or the physical world can make someone evil, and I used to agree. But lately I've come to see these individuals (those who embody "separateness") as more lost than anything else. Like they can't really help themselves. Of course they can, but sometimes you can be so down deep in a hole, buried under so many false ideas and information about yourself and the world, that it's too difficult to overcome on your own.

Working from a base of false information (for example a religious paradigm), you can come to some pretty "evil" seeming conclusions about what you "should" or "must" do. I remember very clearly what it's like to be down in the bottom of that hole (everyone's is unique of course), feeling like there is no possible solution, etc. So, that being said, I see so called evil people, or people who do evil things, as severely deluded about the reality of ... um ... reality.

I feel sorry for them. They can control their actions, and they still need to be held accountable for them (especially criminals and such), but until they have a paradigm shift, they won't really be motivated (not quite the right word) to act differently. They won't understand why it's the right way to act. They might simply act that way to avoid further punishment. And you really need someone (even if it's through the written word) to help you through that shift. We can't all be little Buddhas and come to enlightenment on our own. Like I said, I don't really believe in good and evil, except for when you're talking about archetypal cartoon characters. (Too much Power Rangers for me today.)

Those who are severely deluded about the nature of reality can almost be seen as acting on instinct. They are more animal that cerebral human. Simply reacting, instead of thinking. Heavy doses of religious (and other forms) of conditioning can also have this effect. Does this visceral or conditioned state of mind make someone evil? Are they ever beyond all hope? Or is knowledge -- about the universe, the self, reality -- the cure for evil, as Plato suggested?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ruining It for Everyone Else

Growing up, this was something my parents said to me constantly, at the zoo, at the water park, at my own birthday party. My opinion, my lack of cooperation, my outside-the-boxness was "ruining it for everyone else."

Is this really so bad? I mean, what exactly did I ruin? Their ultimate happiness and source of joy? Just think where'd they all be today if it weren't for me. If I hadn't ruined that perfect Christmas where nobody got what they really wanted anyway.

I was unhappy, sure. And I made a lot of others around me unhappy as well, though that wasn't really my goal. But can one person, or child, really ruin your life? Reality?

I will give my parents a break. I was relentless, and never really gave them a sporting chance. But their words stick with me. Am I doing anyone favors by not speaking what's on my mind? Perhaps something I say, some kernel of truth, will affix itself to you in an uncomfortable space. And now that it's been said, and you've heard it, it can't be taken back. You can no longer ignore the small piece of truth that tells you, you must change. Have I ruined your life?

Truth and beauty can't be ruined. They aren't less true or beautiful when criticized or heckled. It is only the delusion of truth and beauty that gets spoiled. In that sense, I'm doing you a favor by saying what no one else will say. By telling you the truth, even when it's uncomfortable.

Here's to ruining your complacent, settled life -- and choosing the road less traveled by.