on the oldest game of the world
it is that time of the year again. yep, the sales pitch for christmas is hung everywhere with no shame (well except in the states, they will still be waving thanksgiving sales flags till 26 november 2010, the infamous black friday where people run others over to point of death for their once-in-lifetime chance to get cheap stuff) and all sorts of relationship thoughts are creeping up. possibly for everyone (!)
the singles are starting to feel the pressure of RSVP parties, the doomed check-box for single attendee vs. double. the newly attached people are starting to re-examine their partners with microscope: can i bring him/her home? is he/she fit for my contextual surrounding? am i fit for his/her surrounding? what of people returning to home- especially college kids, the new fragile affection vs. the homey historical artifact gf/bf? the list goes on and on.
couple days ago, i ran into an article by one of my favorite journalist, david mccandless. his mash up of datasets and brilliant graphics makes one chuckle with no shame. even when it involves sensitive subject such as break ups. a bit of schadenfreuden i suppose. but before you call me cruel, do give me a break. ive endured my fair share of relationships-gone-the-way-i-dont-want. even at present point, being happy with mr minnow, let's not forget that he is in an entirely different time zone to begin with! and yes, that's far. boo.
i used to wonder as a child: how did my mom/dad meet? what is it like to fall in love? does it last? arent we all just programmed to cheat- that is, to get into a relation, stay long enough to reproduce and pass the first toddler stage, then bugger off to another mate? (btw, that would be approx. 2 years- and yes, the general consensus do state that a relationship would be tested usually by 1.5-2 years of inception) what if i change? what if he/she change? how do i know i am not gay? do old people have sex? is sexual love inclusive of fateful love? what of one-night-stands? platonic vs. personal interest? growing out of relationship? what of being royal vs. becoming a hypocrite?
DOES IT MATTER?
of course it matters.
in fact, up to this date, i think about these things fairly often. especially that i have found the person i love dearly with no reserve. yes, i have fallen in love before, so what makes this special? i suppose i am in a different place, quite simply. in a successful relationship, both parties make an effort. with common goal, even when the individuals may differ. yep. it's an effort, not efforts. of course there will be days that one needs to pull the other, one kicks the other on the shin, one picks up other from being crumpled on the floor, etc., but the idea is that it's a unified action. an action. not actions.
just days ago i heard that one of our friends' got a new appt with the symphony. great news, as music jobs are hard to come by. the even-better-factor? well, his partner's already in the ensemble. they also went through phase of long distance relationship, uncertainty with government paper works and the process of assimilation as a unit in the land that should have been familiar (trust me, when one has to the mountains of paperworks for citizenship related things, even a home soil will seem combative). so i suppose for me to hear about this news was almost like an elation. totally great. so now, with stroke of luck and lots of hard work, they can spend majority of their lives together. in close proximity.
there are also other unions within the orchestra and i envy them greatly. well, may be 'envy' isnt the right word. perhaps 'covet' would be closer. though one would never be a millionaire being in the orchestra, the job is enjoyable (esp in a good orch), pay is alright, and yes, this orch tours as well (take me! i know how to set up chairs) and you get to do it with your partner (somewhat like a second-degree removed chamber music, i suppose). i say that's pretty ideal. and unlike chamber music, where there is that chance of bite-head-off-discussion-moment, having a conductor and principles before individual players do nullify much possible confrontations.
in contrast, just couple weeks ago, i had some other friends who were also hoping for similar goal- but auditions being what it is, unluckily, they now wait for another chance in the future. parallel circumstance, however the very opposite outcomes. but at least they are together, unlike the minnows at yyz and man, which i, once again, envy, slightly. and yes, they are bonkers in love. so there.
then there's another union where one of them travels a great deal. often up to four to six weeks a stretch. it is work and yes, it is nice to travel and all that, but when one is slightly weak or sick (as life gets to us at some point), it is true that one naturally pines for the other, whether consciously or not. but they wouldnt trade it for the world. and i am so happy to be with them, as individuals or as a union.
recently there was another case where one settled for comfortable companionship with a person, though he was really interested in someone different. because of initial expression/hesitation from the interestee, rather than waiting to see further, i think, he went with the conventional route- when one is sought after, well, one should grant a chance to the world! and when i heard of the current situation ('old' relationship ending, starting to foster a new one with the initial interestee), i couldnt help but to think about the importance of examining the self: what is it that one seeks in this particular union? but like most young people (including myself and million others), such process is inevitable and unavoidable. at least he acted with the best possible attitude and grace he could possibly manage, me thinks. he's a fine young man and it's just one of those many learning curves of life.
there's another couple, who are quite young, however, is separated by the atlantic ocean (i know too many of these, it seems). though madly in love, my friend is often swayed and adulated by another person, who is in close proximity (geographically; it also helps that this person is totally infatuated and eternally hopeful) and often wonders about one's own reaction to situations of flattery and blatant pursuit. here, the major catch is that they are a young couple. there is very little one could do to give a non-verbal assurance or express affection through all that distance and time differences. i am crossing my fingers for them, but i also understand such circumstances are difficult.
then there are a few of my friends who are single and are the most wonderful human beings of this planet. period. the catch? well, because they are something spectacularly beautiful and unusual, it seems almost impossible for them to find an optimal situation (ie. find a partner). it's like being the hope diamond. the more beautiful and rare one is, more difficult it becomes to find a suitable partner for them. dont believe me? go ask a serious big scale jeweler; it is a common practice to withhold a gemstone for a ridiculously long period of time, until the jeweler comes to find another that can match it. no point of spoiling the gem by setting it against something that is, well, 'less.' unless, you see, if one is willing to set it as a solo piece. but unlike gems, people love companionship. so they think they are doomed, meanwhile i think it's just taking its time...
another case is people who grew into one another quite comfortably that since it seems 'set,' there is no easy option but to continue with it. a relationship usually goes through a rocky patch in the first 1.5-2 yrs mark. a silly (!) explanation would be that that's the length of time humans would require to mate, produce offspring and guard the offspring through the infancy. and when it's all done, it's time to go find another possibility, to spread the genes.
another explanation is that after 2 years or so, one needs to clarify whether it is a serious relationship (which involves various form of commitment such as engagement/marriage/common-law, etc) to the world and the partner (it is so easy to have a blah date then just return to separate residency and break out a bowl of chips and completely forget about it, hence ritualizing it) and that by end of this time period, one probably have learned most mundane things about the partner, including those pet peeves that could create a spontaneous combustion.
so after a easy initial 'honeymoon,' if one start to see 'other' interests, what is the right thing to do? well, it differs for each individuals, but the answer is it's never so simple. especially when that 'other' person keeps burning through the back of the head while the old partner have faded into a pattern. i know many who have passed through this phase and are happily settled into the 'serious' phase, where there is literally no one else in the world they could be interested in. and for those who are in this rocking point, i can only watch and mull over it. i am aware of cases where one makes the best efforts to transfer this 'familiarity' to 'love,' which then turns into heroic effort to be royal, at which point the only prizes available are:
1. a stand-in, largely functional social union (sans affection/love),
2. an elongated struggle, arriving to an inevitable yet somewhat fortunate conclusion of separation. in my humble opinion, a devotion can be deadly tool, as it could make people to be hopeful, and once hopeful, one is willing to endure all kinds of pain. but devotion, despite its ability to soak up all sorts of efforts and sacrifices, can only work if matched by another devotion...
and then there are a few who are unhappy with the world and self, who seeks companionship as a panacea for their lives' problems. uncharacteristically harsh and unstable, they are often the tyrants of their world while they can only see themselves as the victim. as one mends self, i think one grows out of this insanity (it is insanity in a true sense, as one realizes the faults or shortfalls, one does feel badly and feels the need to readdress their actions in apologies; though whether they do is a different thing all together. in looking back, they even feel sheepishly about their past behaviors) inevitably.
the problem is that until the mending begins, they can create further problems for others. especially for the 'sandbag' stand-ins. their partners are not really partners of equal value. they are supposed to become mentors, mother/father, caretaker, worshiper and a personal savior. the only problem is that those partners may not be aware of that implication at all...! they thought they would be in a simple, happy union (oh shit). and for the temporarily insanes, it is never clear what the problem is. i think it helps when the sandbags realize they are getting beaten up for nothing and start to demand respect, but often, these sandbags are just too nice (the unusually sympathetic bunch who are capable of self-sacrifice in name of humanity...) and they just get run over for a bit.
but not all relationships i know are like the aforementioned examples. there are simple and nice ones. and even every couple have their challenges and problems (who does not, unless, once again, one is truly delusional), much of the people i know have found their partners. it is a constant work and upkeep. and unlike fixing the house or childrearing, there is no easy way out and no real respite.
i have asked several people who tried to work through difficult relationships. ive been in to ruts myself. so after all that rant, how do i know that i am happy now and i am set for life? well, i think it's rather simple.
the first sign is that one simply knows. if one is aware and have been practicing being aware of the inter/intrapersonal world, being receptive to something so spectacularly stunning as love (not just infatuation, interest, companionship, obsession, veneration or pure mad mental illness) is not a difficult task. the question should be that whether one have been aware at all. if not (or unsure), the best place to be is to start to make some sort of effort to understand the world and self. then look outside of self.
the second answer would be that
1. there always will be something interesting if one waits long enough (just simple fact one lives in ever-changing flux of a world),
2. therefore to determine something so transient and ephemeral as love for its absolute value is futile (unless your partner showed up riding a unicorn with a complete castle set),
3. hence, it's not about making the best choice, but of being honest to self and being brave enough to commit and foster a relationship. so what if there'll be more stuff coming up later? for example, there'll always be nicer, bigger, cheaper, sharper imaged televisions. does that mean you should not buy one because there'll always be a better one? does that mean you must replace your television every quarter? nah- neither are practical or possible.
and even if it is possible, we are talking about television. it does not love you back. it does not care. you buy it in a store. you can buy it with a click of a mouse. it's a bloody thing. shouldnt people be a bit more complex and deserve a bit more attention?
the third point is that yes, anything worth your life is not necessarily so easy. sometimes it can be easy. but one shouldnt expect it to be a no-effort. i tell you, the easiest thing is to die. and well, most of us do not want to die. we want to live. and we want to preferably live without pain/suffering. and if there is to be suffering, we want to minimize it. look at the newest health/drug technology and their stocks- it's the hot shit, for sure. people have been desperate to find shortcut to happiness. for eons. even animals. plants. single-cell amoebas.
we the living all wants to thrive. and that is the exact opposite of death. my brother gabe will never ever have to worry about girls ever again, because he's dead. but i bet if he was alive, it would occupy certain portion of his consciousness. on-going. haha. so being alive and having the choice to tackle difficult things are the privilege of the living (and yes, it's not a right)
so based on those three things, i can happily muse that i am content, happy, elated and silly bonkers in love with minnow. i dont want anyone better. i dont want just someone. i dont want any love. i want love from this particular person, as i cant help but to love this man, and guess what, i am fortunate that he loves me. note, it's not that he loves me back. it's not a financial transaction. he loves me willingly and freely. even if i were to say to him: stop loving me, it would be his choice to love me anyways. and why would i say such silly thing anyways. i am fortunate that he kept himself through the trials of time and life. keeping oneself is a full-time commitment. especially if one is beautiful and extraordinary. and to find him at this point of his life, full of vitality, beauty, ingenuity and love, and being able to be found by him, man, that's pretty awesome.
and yes, i am able to say that i also have kept myself and worked myself to become who i am. i am not a mere product of consequent events of my life. i did not always follow the most easy path. i did have struggles, like all of us the conscious beings do, and some, i won, some i lost. i may be a bit dented and impractical, but that does not matter, as minnow loves me as who i am and who i have been. and for us, it's a joyous time (if bit practically demanding), to become who we want to be.
and meanwhile, i will continue to muse about this never-ending-curious topic of love. i havent even got to sexuality and im laughing at the length of this post. if you made it this far, i say thank you. and yes, love to you, from me. from the world. one is never totally separated from the world, as people always have ways to be connected by various spidersilk threads that defies laws of physics- time, space, whatever else.
3 november 2010 post