I’ve never liked the song “The Greatest Love of All”. Too cloying. Too sugary. Too obvious. Accessible symbolism and aphorism for those in the cheap seats at the monster truck rally, those who’d wear bumperstickers on their asses if they weren’t so fearful of deviating from normality.
But the sentiment of that, when stripped of sugar and caramel and cheapening saccharine, is somehow sweeter, and more palatably so at that.
It seems the world runs around the world looking. For love, to be loved. To give love. Running, always running. Towards or away? They’re the same thing, you see. Seeks or is sought. For another. An other.
“Self love” elicits giggles. Yes, even from me at times. The masses may not understand irony or anything that floats above and taunts at literalism, but euphemism is used to strong—if sad—effect. “Swings both ways”. “Going at it.” “Making Love” (when really you just mean having a fuck). “Playing with yourself” when you really mean self-pleasuring.
We hide myriad special, subtle and primal things behind cartoons and pastel colors and far too much wasteful packaging—sort of like cookies and candies from Japan and Korea. We bury those special intimacies deep down, so that we can have non-inciteful, uninsightful conversations, a thin gruel of safe context we gobble up when there’s a banquet of treasures there for the taking if we’re willing to be the first one to walk across the room to the Big People’s Table.
I spent a long time having a conversation with my mom today on the phone—it’s her birthday today—and it’s been a rough few months for our family. Some think they have a “cool” relationship with their parents because they can say “fuck” and “shit” around them, but quality interaction is more about what’s not avoided rather than what’s simply overlooked. Etiquette, like politesse, has no place among families, friends and true lovers.
There were important things to talk about and we managed the uphill climb to those difficult places where truth speaks all on its own and mutual respect is a naturally emergent property. Differences of opinion are not easy, but respect makes them possible while keeping a family whole. And intactness is a good indicator that productive work is being done.
All that said though, sometimes aphorisms live up to their hype. Here’s one: “take care of your own oxygen needs first, then assist the one next to you”. My mom has been a fan of that one for a long time and frankly, so have I. It’s effortlessly easy to see the non-obvious wisdom in its pragmatism. Idea touches down, leaving a footprint. And the ground swells.
The longer I live, especially my life during that years-long stint trapped in a cellblock with a set of “humans” I would have otherwise dismissed out of hand for lack of simpatico, the more I notice that people don’t seem to like themselves very much.
Here goes one of those silly, self-referential paradoxes of which the religious are so fond (don’t say I didn’t warn you): people in general are less quiet about themselves. Good deeds never go unmarketed. Bad deeds never appear unescorted by the wink-and-nod of having been “adventuresome”. More marketing.
On balance, I am also certain that those who do good deeds and contribute to the betterment of the general instead of the personally advantageous are legion. Them I put in places of honor because they’d never assume such a mantle themselves.
I am a bottom. A top. A master. An owner. A slave. A dog. A 3rd. A cutter. A cuttee. The flow of blood adds so much to the proceedings, don’t you think? We’re monogamous, except when we’re not. We’re open, but we follow the agreed upon rules, at least most of the time because isn’t it hot to be bad and cheat? I’m into leather. It’s a life. Cockrings. Harnesses. Rubber (except on the cock). PVC. Moderation is a waste of time. Quietude means you’re out of the loop.
So much frippery thrown up around how progressive each of us is. We festoon our lives with ostentation and those things whose mere presence speaks for us so we don’t have to risk language—there are traps in speech. So much of so much, that too much isn’t a so much a judgment as a goal.
Catholics seem little more than Papal serfs these latter days, and Protestants protest biblical variance in bread & circuses. Israel has forgotten the value of a proportional response. Mission Accomplished says the banner on that cart before the horse.
People who don’t like themselves, who don’t care about or love themselves, typically feel incomplete. Lacking. Here in San Francisco, I have yet to encounter an open relationship that doesn’t have the stink of the something-lacking to it.
But then there are some people learn to abide the lack and set out to alter their expectations—either lower them or make them more abiding—in order to create the space and time that allows an act of will or creation.
And I do love myself, who I am. I am complete unto myself. I am no island, but I don’t need a Someone in order to feel complete. I don’t even need to take from someone else that which I lack. Those whom I have loved and been in love with were with open heart and brightness of person.
Those incomplete people, though? They have honed their ability to spot wholeness in others and then attempt a forced transplant. The act isn’t like secretly siphoning enough gasoline from guy’s tank in order to get them to the next gas station, it’s more like stealing an arm—you’ll miss it more, and there’s no replacing it once it’s gone. It’s body-thiefing.
It’s in how the rest of us react, abide, reject, castigate, punish, coddle these vampires, these body thieves. Starve the bitter cold and feed the feverish frenzy? Sympathy for the devil in the details, or prosecutorial and heartless moxie?
Mostly, I throw my hands up in the air for the confusion of it all, frustrated with my indecision. I am a victim of my own susceptibility to that eternal bugaboo, “plausible deniability”.
That goes hand in hand with optimism, I think. Preferring the more noble side. Would that we actually were the paragon of animals, but paragons don’t have sides.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Maybe forces a decision and not all of us are up to decision-making. If there were rules for it, there’d be no Maybe’s at all. Apply the rule and go home.
Like the rest of life, you only get there by getting there. One instance does nothing but add to the litany of instances until there are enough that we fool ourselves into believing in a common wisdom.
In the end, though, I’d rather be right about human decency than right about a soulless society. I’d rather be wrong on the side of rightness.
And sometimes, I’d just rather see Ann Droid zap the fuck out of a Dalek.