Tuesday, September 27, 2016



I am glad for the way that things have ended up working out for me.  Often, my occasionally trite, seemingly relentlessly upbeat mien, has been in some of my past associations to have been an albatross, because it gives me the appearance of being somewhat detached from the truth about life and its harshness. Growing up in the era that I did, before all the things that we see now thanks to the ubiquity of video recording equipment (I mean, cameras , er, phones come with enough technology that you can record your own VIDEO SHOW with them) that allows the discussion of social injustices and inequalities to be seen as more than a cop out.  Much of the rancor, similar to the spirit that the GOP 2016 Presidential candidate has framed his campaign in, seems to be, at least to me, due to the unattractiveness of the images of themselves that they see when their views face the light of objective deconstruction.

Think about it… when you say that you are voting for the GOP candidate, you have to reconcile the sexism, racism, the audacity of the sheer bigotry of his campaign… yep, you have to tell yourself that either you are not a lot of things that Trumpf appears to be and that he really does have a plan for bring the country together, or that you are more like the low-information, racist, and nationalistic throng that appears at his rallies.  But that isn’t what this is about.


I came across an article on Buzzfeed that gave a definition to one of the more schadenfreude-ish concepts in life - “The illusion of productivity - The feeling that you get when you go out and buy office supplies”, and it made me think about other things that can be described just as disappointingly illusory… like emotions and feelings surrounding relationships.  This took root in my head because of a coincidence that could only have happened because of the web.  After experiencing this piece of “internet schadenfreude”, this mirage of what may have been possible, a photo of one of the potential life-partners I have met since I have been in Omaha, led me to ponder how each relationship fail provided me with an experience that was like the illusion of being in love.  Now I have never been one of those men who finds succor in finding fault with women, leastways not as typically seen in men lately.  But I wonder if I was more prototypical in how I view women and relationships, how would I look back on the “shadow relationships” that I have experienced in Omaha.

While I remembered meeting this woman clearly… it was at one of the shopping centers here in town, it wasn’t because that it was unique.  What did make the random meet so distinctive is how taken she was with me, repeating several times, “you are a handsome man” as we walked around the mall.  Now I thought I was “kicking game”, but as it always has been with me, the ego-inflation was still muted.    I would invite her to get something to eat and we had a nice dinner together.  We’d go out for a few months, nevertheless, she would simply up and go ghost on me, which has essentially been the common theme in my Omaha experience, even in the process of me being a “really nice guy” to go along with “my being very handsome” (at least as far as she was concerned).  

I can imagine that if I actually socialized with others men (or, for that matter, people in general) that I would be able to classify these encounters in an understood and common fashion.  But because I don’t, and I have my own system of classification for relationships, the degree to which my opinion is accurate is a matter of personal taste.  But I do find that I have a little sympathy for some brothers out there who may be legitimately “good guys” but are finding out that being a good guy, a textbook good catch, is just not enough.  For women of any class, whether good, bad, or just a “plain Jane”, this has been a norm only since always.  This is also why any empathy for the brothers is really more a matter of course to keep the cognitive dissonance from overwhelming me.  I mean, I have to be a man, so I am not going to be able to have but so much empathy for women.  

Having been involved in a relationship where there could have been a case made for me being the “good man” while I was involved with Mookie Dee, it gave me  a more nuanced experience to base my view of relationships upon.  But I remain unable to think of myself as such because of my prior “bad acts” in previous relationships (including the one with Mookie Dee when we were teens..!) with women.  Yet, in applying the kind of logic that I apply to myself to women, it keeps me from the victimization bias that I think shapes the rhetoric whenever the conversational dialogue turns to talk about relationships.  That said, if you aren’t able to look within yourself to find many of the solutions to why you aren’t in the relationship situation that you desire, the likely problem isn't them but YOU.


Marrying means to halve one's rights and double one's duties” -Arthur Schopenhauer

I could have used a mawkish way of describing what is for those who have navigated the vagaries of relationships, what it takes, the most fundamental of qualities to find happiness in a coupling.  It has been read on cards, sung in pop songs, and whined about in Facebook memes and posts.  But ol’ Arthur gets right to the point.  Yes, being in love means being so full of the emotion that you would climb mountains, but in Schopenhanuer’s quote, you face the full reality of what being so committed to another person entails.  And I agree with the spirit of what Schopenhauer is saying.  You are going to also have to be willing to give up a great deal… and if you are uncertain that you are going to receive, at the very least, like value for what you are giving up, then you won’t do it.  You won’t sacrifice anything on your end, materially or otherwise, especially when it comes to love.

My ex-wife was a person who only saw worth in the things that she thought was important in her life.  My immaturity unsurprisingly kept me from prevented me for applying the knowledge that I had accumulated up to that point.  While I was indeed an a-hole at times (just ask Pecan Sandie) to women, there was never any malice aforethought behind my actions.  I never asked anyone for some kind of material tokens, and certainly never asked for anything with the implications of my request being tied to some kind of emotional currency, say, becoming more involved and care toward someone IF.  But outside of the literal interpretation of Schopenhauer, is a figurative one, one that I have tried to keep at hand and in my full wanness.

I think that the growth in a relationship is finding out how much more there is to your existence when you have found not only someone that is willing to give everything up for you, but when you find someone for whom you are willing to give up the world.  I knew that a long time ago, and it wasn’t because of my love for the words of “old dead white guys”.  Whether it was giving up a Butterfinger in elementary school, or deciding to quit boxing to see if me and my ex-wife could make it, the whole “greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward” thing is true.  I think that people inherently know this, whether they are some selfish kid hogging the toys or a religious figure who has taken on a vow of poverty.  It is a part, I think, a part of the human experience, one that doesn’t get the kind of thought that other things about being human does.

Even as I felt ostracized as a teenager, and carried a sense of foreboding alienation within me as a young adult, I knew that my feelings were not my reality.  Just as one is entitled to their own opinion but not their own set of facts, what one thinks is correct in spite of was not objective analysis (like the GOP presidential candidate..!) is more than likely the incorrect outlook on a situation.  For me and my participation in “the ol’ who’s having what”, boiling down the relationship to its most fundamental elements would be the criteria for how I experienced love.

Getting back to the inspiration for my post… people who really like you act and behave like they really like you.  The people who don’t, act and behave like they don’t like you at all.  And in Omaha, the sisters have generally treated me as though they don’t like me.  Said that and yet, shed no tears for THIS cat!!  Because at the end of the day, I brother is still able to “get his”!! :0)


Mary Degli Esposti said...

Even when I don't agree with you, I tend to admire your resolve & tenacity.

Anonymous said...

That last paragraph made me think of that old Bob Marley song, "No woman- no cry." :)