This is an essay I wrote... a long time ago!
Much earlier today I put a crock pot of black beans and pinto beans on to cook slow. I carefully chopped onion, garlic, green chilies, red peppers, and basil leaves and put it all on top of the beans. Later, when I went to add the tomato paste, I found I had put far too many beans in — they had expanded — so I needed to scoop out half the container. The beans are always good and tasty; I just always have trouble waiting for the magic to take place between the time they are little more than brown stones and the time they become edible morsels. All day I have eaten the beans at various stages, telling myself I will wait until I can eat an awesome bean and cheese burrito, but when that time comes I'm sure I won't be hungry.
Today I am supposed to do an enormous amount of work at home, but I can't. I grow tired of the busy whir of computer hard drives. I am as restless as the wind in the trees outside my window. At least for now I will sit. If I smoked, I'd have a cigarette. If I was an alcoholic, I'd have a drink. But now I will eat half-cooked beans because I am sicker that I have been for years. I am wounded by this sickness. Put simply … I fell in love. This time I wasn't looking and tripped in. I have fallen deeply into the trap, and it will likely take me some time to crawl my way out of it.
Meanwhile, the object of my affections probably wants nothing to do with me now. I let fly with two super-intense poems, where I captured (in great detail) the inner workings of my feelings as I recalled every second of interaction between us when we met by chance on the night of a full moon. I am now sure this was a little much for her. You'd think I would have learned the lessons of the past in this regard — but I haven't.
I am always so thrilled to connect this way with another human being that I lose all sense of proportion. I put too much into the pot. I fill it until the contents has no room to boil. Then I wait for days and weeks in an anxious, nervous state; waiting for a phone call, a note, a letter, and E-Mail response… anything that will indicate that the tome hit its mark. So I sample the mailbox far too often. I do not heed my own advice to my love-sick friends ("Don't wait for the mail or it will never come!"). The response from these unfortunate women never comes.
Rollo May, in his piece entitled "Paradoxes of Sex and Love" (1969) wrote:
"It is a strange thing in our society that what goes into building a relationship — the sharing of tastes, fantasies, dreams, hopes for the future, and fears from the past — seems to make people more shy and vulnerable than going to bed with each other. They are more wary of the tenderness that goes with psychological and spiritual nakedness than they are of the physical nakedness in sexual intimacy."
Amen, brother May! Now there's my problem exactly. I should let go of my requirements for building a relationship with intellectual, spiritual, and emotional repartee and simply go for intimacy by barreling through the front door of sex! The woman who probably wants to be in love with me while I am in love with another woman says that I should get a leather jacket and ride a motorcycle if I want to compete with other men for the attention of women. She might have a point.
We who are single and find ourselves on the other side of the long-past sexual revolution are a pitiful bunch. We have taken the product of love (sex) and turned the entire process on its head. We expect love to spring from sex because we don't have time to build relationships from the ground up. And when we are in a relationship, no matter how unsuitable it is for us, we tend to stay in them because it takes too much time to start over. The reasoning is that if the sex is good, everything else will follow. Afterall, the idea of living the rest of our lives without a great sex partner is much harder to bear than sharing them without a great conversationalist and companion. We can have vicarious companionship anytime from a VCR or a telephone, but we like our sex hot, real, exciting, and available whenever we need it.
The real problem is that all the things people need to make a lasting, solid relationship work takes more time than most of us are willing to invest. Many of us have grown up believing that we must have our careers in place before we settle down to the real work of relationships. Freed from the expectation that we must marry people we have sex with, and unburdened by the old-style notions of romance, we spend our career-building years in a series of disposable relationships. These typically start in college, when we are finally away from our parents and we can discover sex with relative ease. Since we have made a rule against marrying while still in college, we wait until after that time to think seriously about it. Then we discover that to move forward in our careers we should be willing to relocate, travel, and spend long hours at the job (so we can take vacations). Most of us never consider the question, "Can I spend the rest of my life with this person?", before we enter into sexual, and possibly parental relations with them.
Before we know it, we are in our thirties. Women hit the biological wall in a big way. They want to get married and have families, but they don't know how to do this because a man who would be willing to commit to them is exactly the kind they've been avoiding for so long. Men fare worse in this regard. Most have lived their entire adult lives believing that commitment is a long four letter word. They have avoided deep relationships by utterly divorcing love from sex. Their idea is that there will always be women willing to put up with their behavior as long as they are they ones who must both take responsibility for avoiding pregnancy, as well as prolonging the inevitable march towards menopause. At least women cling to the hope that they will somehow be able to combine love and sex with the right man in some mythical future, and they are more emotionally healthy for it.
So, our generation has learned to play an emotional shell game. We all have a hidden agenda and are not used to telling the truth. We have moved so far away from our emotional centers that we unthinkingly replace physical intimacy for spirituality. We can always opt out of any relationship (even a marriage) whenever a younger, newer, more exciting, more suitable, more capable person comes along, because we do not have to pay the same emotional price past generations did. For them, breaking a vow of marriage (or even a promise to go steady) was tantamount to breaking a spiritual contract between two people. Just as love has been replaced with sex, fidelity is now all about action — not intent. This means for many of us, that we can become involved with others outside of our primary relationship in every way, as long as we don't sleep with them. This is because we do not expect our primary relationships to meet our emotional or spiritual needs. We cheat on our mates in our minds, and many cross the line from thinking about cheating to actually cheating without much effort. Of course, we hurt each other emotionally because we all seem to underestimate the raw, genetic, primordial, molecular power of sex. Now, because of our inability to control our sexual urges and to see beyond the moment, we not only hurt one another — we can literally kill each other with sex.
An irony for me is that I have fallen in love with a woman who is involved in an on-again-off-again relationship with a boyfriend she's had for the past nine years. It seems she was about to get to an off-again phase with him, so I jumped at the chance to tell her that I've had a crush on her for the four years since I've known her. This was done at her invitation. I realize now that she probably needed to go to the edge of an emotional cliff by flirting with me so she could use the boost she gets from it to sort out the problems with her boyfriend with renewed strength. She now knows that someone else is immensely interested in, and attracted to her. I predict they'll now be married within the year. (Those last four sentences were the result of an overwhelming and sudden urge to climb out of this deep love hole I find myself in. They can be ignored if you wish.).
I must admit that I actually fell victim to the "if she doesn't have a ring on her finger, she's fair game" mentality that I have found so distasteful in the past. Maybe it's emotional survival, maybe it's a realization that one must know the rules of the game to compete effectively, maybe it's old age, maybe it's the bald spot that is becoming a bald patch on the top of my head … I don't know what possessed me to tell this woman that I want her to be with me and not with him. I do not think the word commitment is a four letter word. This crush-love-thing I have is one of the "I'd marry you today if you said yes" variety, so it's probably a good thing I haven't heard back from her. It may be that sending intense poems to women I fall in love with is not a bad thing afterall. To date, it has been a lot like listening for signals from extraterrestrial life forms. Perhaps a similar response from a woman is an indication that she is exactly the kind of woman I want to be with. I try to tell myself that these things take time, although I am still suffering from this self-inflicted sickness.
My beans, which have been simmering quietly in the kitchen all day, are finished. I have gotten up several times from this work to taste and smell them. The flavors have all blended together perfectly. The magic has been done. I now have a crock pot full of wonderful, hearty, tasty beans. All it took was a little time and patience. I've worked hard all day crafting bits of thoughts into words on a page, and for most of this time I haven't had those debilitating pangs for her that have plagued me for each day of this week (I only checked my E-Mail once today). It's time for an awesome bean and cheese burrito… and I'm hungry now.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!