Good byes

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” has been the mainstay of my life for over 7 years now. Trapped – in what seems an eternity (again the Greeks are nothing if not dramatic!) – in the undertow of life events, saying “good bye” comes more often than hello. And yet, there is truth in this quote, for with each salutary gesture more assured are we in our primordial attachment.

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

Juliet:
‘Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone—
And yet no farther than a wanton’s bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

Romeo:
I would I were thy bird.

Juliet:
Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Preceding this passage is this passage:

Juliet:
A thousand times good night!

Romeo:
A thousand times the worse, to want thy light.
Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.

Eternal Love

“He who does not know how to encircle a girl so that she loses sight of everything he does not want her to see, he who does not know how to poetize himself into a girl so that it is from her that everything proceeds as he wants it-he is and remains a bungler.” Kierkegaard

So where would Kierkegaard’s aesthetic lover find himself…even more interesting, where would one find Regine Olsen who spent her whole life loving Kierkegaard.

Source: Eternal Love

No Blank Slate

There’s no Locke-down ( 😉 ) on personal history, people. There’s no blank slate! Don’t gripe and complain that your partner has hang-ups, concerns, issues, and expectations! What did you think you were getting into? A vegetable garden? Cause if you’re asking for my histoire to be left at the door, I might as well be a vegetable! Look, it’s like this. If you’ve picked me out of a crowd, there’s something about how I hold myself, how I wear my being, that you’ve spotted. Now I didn’t get here just from popping out of my mother’s womb. I crawled, walked, digressed, walked some more, ran (in my case A LOT), took a couple of pit stops, got slapped down, crawled some friggen more (but now as a full-grown adult!!!), learned to walk all over again and maybe in between there might have been some singing and dancing! But ultimately I have a walk, a stride all my own. It’s what you saw. It’s what elated you in my presence, it’s what drew you in. Now maybe you might not stay long. Maybe my run now looks more like a trot, and my gait now makes you think; Purina Dog Chow. But that wasn’t always the case.

What’s my point? We are all historical and existential beings, and that’s just a fancy way of saying that life experiences are the material from which each of us gives shape to our being. Who we are is neither given, nor entirely a social construct. We are intimately preoccupied with the “who” of our being; it keeps us awake at night, and causes us to anguish over how to respond to life’s callings. We are inescapably arrested by that inward pull into ourselves as we wrestle to understand through a process of self-understanding. We are uniquely oriented to the world with others in this way. We don’t just make decisions that can be deemed rational, valid, quirky or stupid. We don’t simply (well, maybe not that simple) speak to a set of claims organized according to logic specs. For even when decisions ascertained are strictly valid, there remain residual concerns of conscience. I can reason my way out of a situation and still find myself startled by the lack of insight and agential restitute that follows. How can this be?

Well, it would seem the who of our being is not constituted by rationality alone. Decisions made do not speak authentically to my sense of being for their excogitations but rather for the unique way that I am the experiencing subject of a life. Again this boils down to the act of understanding as self-understanding that is always concrete, individual and which cannot be outstripped. People come with all sorts of baggage but the #1 slot goes to betrayal! We’ve all experienced it even if the conditions and circumstances that occasioned it were radically dissimilar. So Aleena, a thoughtful, lovely young woman spent the better part of her adult life with Damian ( 😉 ). Damian, though not overtly abusive; in fact, one might say, to the contrary; he was outwardly caring, thoughtful and tremendously supportive. But he had this one teensy, itsy-bitsy quirk, you might say. He was an insatiable womanizer. Blindly committed, Aleena was in the dark…well, until she wasn’t. But that came some 20 odd years later. Those that knew her, knew her to be a true Kantian, and hence, autonomy was non-negotiable. There’s no way Damian could not have known this. So the news of his compulsive infidelity came like a tsunami! Resilient, but now single, Aleena carried on, and as luck would have it, met Stergios. Now Stergios, as his name suggests, was a caring, reliable and dependable man. You might say, Aleena had found her Kantianpart ( 😉 ). So when Aleena would find herself expressly agitated by what were for Stergios perfectly innocent liaisons with other women, he first appealed to reason – her reason, his reason, the selfsame Reason inherent to all human thinking God damn it!!!! –  but that was to no avail. Aleena seemed unappeased, and hence to his mind, irrational, unreasonable, and quite frankly, exhausting. It seemed unfair that he should have to pay for the wrongful ways of Damian! After all, Stergios is the guy! He’s the one that has his shit together, is decent, caring, a man of integrity, and committed to building a life, his future, with Aleena. Shouldn’t she be expected to transcend her past, her life experiences? Shouldn’t she be able to attend to the situation at hand, and with reason guiding her breast, conclude that her reactions are nothing more than displaced emotive energies?

Could Stergios be asking that Aleena leave her history at the door? Could his expectation be that Aleena turn back the clock and undo all that has been done? Reason most certainly can guide thought processes, and this is essential insofar as clarity of thought, and precision of speech can put quandaries and paradoxes to rest that might otherwise be the source of aporia. However, Aleena has not become a suspicious, and infuriatingly sensitized woman alone, she has also become that magnanimous, deeply caring and vulnerable woman. That woman, in fact, who Stergios found to be exquisitely endearing and authentic. It is through an active process of self-understanding that often arises in moments of rupture that we come to renegotiate ourselves, to redefine, and realign ourselves in the world with others. Who we are is always on its way, for as Sartre would say, we are inescapably free and in this life practice we must (re)invent ourselves. But none of this is ever accomplished in a vacuum (well Sartre got pretty damn close…) and hence Aleena is who she is (e.g. magnanimous  and fragile) only because of the manner in which she experienced herself as the subject of betrayal and the meaning that that came to have for her. It would do little good to speak to her of betrayal as something commonly experienced and walk her through the 5 stages of grief (Kubler Ross’s account has been adapted to speak beyond the scope of death). This can often do no more than demoralize, deflate, and decay Aleena’s sense of person. It will create a disconnect; one where I – in Aleena’s voice – feel misunderstood. I am not anyone of those people that have experienced betrayal. Even if there are commonalities that one can discern in the narration of my story, the particular experience is existentially relevant to me because only I can experience myself as the experiencing subject of said betrayal and come to an understanding of myself within such dimensions of life. It is not to be discerned dispassionately, as a spectator, by Stergios, himself unaffected, living life at a frequency of sound unheard, though nonetheless relayed by word and deed.

So that’s it? Case closed? Should Stergios just accept Aleena’s hyper sensitivity? Well no, of course not. For we are also not just the product of our experiences, even those existentially realized experiences of self. We are always on our way, and who Aleena is can and will be renegotiated within a backdrop of openness and care with Stergios, who critically but un-judgingly will indulge Aleena looking to uncover that narrative which speaks to the way in which she has come to see herself (she may experience herself as more vulnerable and yet open, or intolerant and closed…) and others (she may now experience others with suspicion or with greater insight into the human condition), the values she has picked up along the way (she may now reject her Kantian ways!!!), and the opportunities that her relations with Stergios have now occasioned. The conversation is not conducted by two rationally disposed, self-contained beings, bridged by their mutual adherence to basic principles of reasoning. Instead, engagement is characterized by mutually, amongst inter-historical beings who share an inward process of self-understanding within a context of openness (open to the possibilities of becoming through the activity seeking joint understanding). Stergios then does not begin from a position of superiority as if to suggest that his leanings are impervious to historicity, and hence he is called upon to also expose his existential, and hence, personalized investedness in his paradigm of meaning. Suddenly, engaging in liaisons with other women is neither abstractly and hence absolutely innocent or suspect, and manners of being-with-(female)-others need be renegotiated. Mutuality suggests, therefore, that a paradigm of meaning shall be negotiated amongst two historical existential beings.

Relations?! It’s a l o n g, convoluted, often treacherous road. Negotiating these can be taxing, yet rewarding, as each time it takes partners to deeper levels of intimacy, connectedness and mutual understanding. When left unnegotiated or when they are beyond negotiation (the reasons are endless, but high on the list is an existential disconnect) it’s time to sever ties, but WOW, when those ties are restructured, rekindled, that twisted, messy webbed tangle, is gloriously fulfilling, and unmatched. Hold on to those, people!

Song  – the arts in general – have this incredible way of communicating the non-transferable and utterly subjective character of human experience. Have a listen (my Greek readers will understand best!)! 🙂 ❤

 

FYI – None of the characters in this story are historical figures, rather they are a semblance of many – of you, me, mom and dad, distant strangers and more.

A Tribute to Mothers

I wrote these updates for my children’s birthdays. It seemed the appropriate opportunity to express the overwhelming joy these two wonderful people have brought to my life. Mothers (fathers too, but today I speak to mothers who experience parenthood in their own way) know the challenges brought on that go far beyond physical exhaustion, and self-doubt, to accommodating paradigms that seem to cater (still) to lingering patriarchal ideals and a certain degree of self-loathing from which we draw some atonement for betraying what we often experience as the new and liberating feminist paradigm that would have us renounce the more self-sacrificial mode of being-alondside-our-children. I mean even as educated career oriented and independent women we wanted to have children.  More often than not most of us found ourselves assuming the role of the primary care-taker (however much you share responsibilities, most of us still think that we are sharing these!). This usually meant making small and LARGE sacrifices along the way that invariably were at the cost of our professional (and hence financial) advancement. Intermingled with frustration, and despair – and now I speak to my own personal experience – my children helped me grow in ways that would have otherwise been remiss. So though I take pride in having raised two amazing children, as the dedications below suggest, today I am thankful for how I learned a special kind of patience, and open-mindedness with them. I came to viscerally indulge intellectual schemes of thinking I long defended but always short of the practical challenges and potential (and ultimately actual) materials costs and risks evoked along the way. Courage, determination, even faith amidst often times excruciating pangs of self-doubt, I think have made me a better, albeit more complex, person (perhaps those that know me now feel inclined to step in and yell: NO!!!! :)) Being a mother today is a complicated affair, but still oh, so worth it!

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You Only Live Once

A parable exhaustively announced as if something novel and true. Yes, yes, unless you believe in the transmigration of the soul whereby identity remains in tact (I don’t know about you, but if I’m somehow assured an afterlife with a prelife I have no knowledge of, sign me up for cremation!) you only live once. Got it. Mostly people advocate (insert long heavy sigh) “you only live once” to make a point about doing their utmost to live this one life. It is one of those thoughtless motivational ploys to get people off their asses and really live! I get that. I do. But really? Is anyone ever really moved to live life to the fullest beyond a somewhat transient, flippant, arms flying in the air, “take me now’ mode of being when making such banal pronouncements? There is as much oomph, as much gumption in these words as there is in the goo goo ga ga of mothers’ first words to their (presumed idiot) offspring!

This does more to obfuscate than illumine insights into the human condition. Only the obtuse would enjoin the thoughtlessness that accompanies this prescriptive journey. The reflectiveness of the conscious, or perhaps as Sartre rightly suggests, self-conscious, more brightly sways placating anxieties to turn their wavering heads from indulgences – even those requiring some configured determination, usually of the more physical variety – to festering inner struggles wherein the Subjective looms. Living life to the fullest is not something one simply does, it is an orientation of life that is unsettling as much as it is motivating, disturbing as much as it is enlightening, defeating as much as it is empowering, painful as much as it is moving, crippling as much as it is igniting. It is not a simple task, a monochromatic way of being. It is polychromatic, strangely infused with a cacophony with harmonic hues, which fall deaf on unassuming ears. Being-towards-death is a nonrelational, hence intimately subjective, if lonely, experience, and most importantly it cannot be outstripped, for death is the “possibility of impossibility”. Do the work, if you’re going to make the talk!

No Text Back!!!?????

e94b1011d24e2736c519f5a8bb757653What is Netiquette? Basically acceptable conduct on the net. Don’t get excited, I don’t have anything terribly deep or exciting to share. I’m not a fan of social media;  I’m also not one of those that simply advocates that the value of all things is entirely determined by use. Environments host structures of meaning which however elastic nonetheless are the oxygen in which all forms of engagement come to life! One thing in particular disturbs me regarding netiquette: texting. Like all forms of inter-human communication, texting is not immune to various inter-gender, inter-sexual, inter-political plays. So ya, as a young girl I recall how boys wouldn’t return calls right away in order to jack up their sense of self-worth and invariably put me – any girl – in her place! “Dude, wtf, don’t be such a douchebag,  there’s protocol!!! Call backs before the 3-day grace period make you a puts! She’ll think you’re desperate and that she’s worthless!!! And whatever you do, do not, I repeat DO NOT even acknowledge her at school. If you see her in the corridors, turn quickly away.  How else will she know how lucky she is to have your attention??!!!” At first dejected, girls soon learned how to read silent gestures and boys soon learned to follow standardized plays. We learned early on not to ever say what we mean, and to be “clear” in our overt indifference. It’s truly a miracle people ever get together at all!

Texting has just exacerbated the ridiculous! Bling, bling!!! Noises familiar to anyone with a phone these days! Bling, bling! Hey you have friends! (as my daughter mockingly likes to say!) Email? Text? A notification? Whatever it is, you’ve been notified!! So that means when I send an email or text, unless you find yourself in Bermuda-wifi Triangle, any delay in response must be owned to time-management of sorts. Essentially, the recipient goes through a process at lightning speed, and delegates your importance cross-checked against all other notifications and whatever (if ever) s/he is doing at the moment. It essentially tells you how important you are to that person, or at least how important they conceive themselves to be in deference to you. Some of us will only occupy enough importance to keep one “company” sitting on the can, waiting for their dental appointment, or in temporary partner-absentia (as when they’ve gone to the can…hahahaha). Others aren’t so lucky, and find themselves lost in cyberspace or lockdown! I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic!

Somehow I’ve never felt empowered by making people wait. I relish not casting others into the land of oblivion. Lapses are suspended moments occupied by silence, the gravity of which are as palpable (often more) an experience of derision as the most caustic of words (it is actually a very distinct kind of derision). I’m not suggesting that all communications are created equal – I’d hope my family and lover would as a rule be motivated to get to me first – but that’s just the point, right? Immediacy suggests care: it says, you matter to me. It says you matter. I’m not oblivious to these plays – not by a long shot – but I don’t care enough to permit it to define my level of engagement. Who the hell decided these damn protocols anyway? 3 days not 2 or 1 day? WTF??!! I don’t feel more enticed by rejected; only bored and literally dis-engaged…so, ya….BORED!

Stranger, newbie, student, acquaintance, colleague, inquisitor? They all get a response from me! And all with equal care (time-permitting, of course) and consideration of their existential import. So yes, text me and I will as a rule respond as immediately as life circumstances permit. Clearly such scenarios are ever more comically and disturbingly realized amongst those with whom you share intimate historical ties – ach, existential anomie overwhelms…until boredom sets in! Until then I remain deliriously amused!

This Generation and her Discontents

There is much here that most of us will nod our heads in agreement to. Sure, there is a tendency towards entitlement, but there’s also (and I blame psychologists and twisted paradigms…sorry) this paradoxical tendency towards (also mentioned in this brief interview) mediocracy which is in part fuelled by an odd insistence on rewarding failure (see participation medals) – God forbid anyone ever experience the anguish of self-limitation! But there are other underlying and worrisome horizons of meaning that structure these seemingly contradictory feeds: hedonism and instrumentalism. From the time of birth all household operations are designed to appease or completely obliterate discomfort/unhappiness/pain (all very different kinds of experiences which a more lengthy blog would address) – cries are muffled with pacifiers, food, tv, mobiles, and more. Quickly children learn to direct their activities towards investing in that which will reap the greatest rewards with the least hedonic risk. A cost-benefit analysis is born, and an instrumentality that soon pervades all and consumes the imagination, stifling thereby the possibility for personal growth, and the cultivation of meaningful inter-human relations of deep love premised on sacrifice, and from which often the most delicate and substantive virtues evolve which harness eudaimonic existence.

Strangely…or not so damn strangely, anything worth having is worth fighting for…happiness is painful, meaningful life experiences are anguish-filled!

(FYI I’m so on board with his humorous, yet astute (in my opinion…fans of The Good Wife will appreciate the reference) observations on social media!!!!)