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Walking With Dragons - Warnings, Disclaimers andtherestofthefineprint.
It's Sunday evening, and time for some of that walk I promised you (though I'm looking very forward to the one you've proposed, as well), so we'll pull out your "Here There Be Dragons" speech, and I'll just dance around a few of the more interesting points in this delightful collection of arrows that have, I'm sure, claimed too many hearts in their day.
RE: WARNINGS, DISCLAIMERS ANDtherestofthefineprint.
>expectations either. Read the warning label and reach your own
Along the meandering way below, I think I'll toss in my own set of situational conditions and dynamic guarantees - I'm not without my own existential patina (though some would wash it off, having no real appreciation for the lustre of true experience, *sniff*), and it's sometimes helpful to flash an "end of county road maintenance ahead" sign and see who turns around.
I have to hand it to you, Barlow - after this many bytes tossed into the kettle, I think most men would have turned around by now. I don't know what you're driving, but it's got some pretty good traction to it. We'll see how it handles the rest of the terrain.
>Well, I'm available. And not. I'm certainly not great husband
>material, but I didn't get the idea that you were looking for that
So, you weren't reading that closely, were you? Honey, I'm a housewife just waitin' to happen.
I know it doesn't look like it - it certainly mustn't right now, at any rate. And I do think all the marrying kinds take one look at me and just can't imagine living with this many women at one time. I wasn't kidding about the Harem Within.
Oh, I'm not dangerous. [Well, actually, I do have one deep side that I've met a few times on some internal rambles. She probably comes closest to the essence of someone out of a Ridley Scott/Wim Wenders film. Fascinating girl-woman. Absolutely riveting - strong and wise and as ruthless as Winter's Nature. But she never comes fully out - she does not like people that much - doesn't see what they're good for. She has only begun to trust me in the past few years...but these are stories for later, and only hints for now]
I don't talk about this really (in fact, this is the first time I've put it to paper this way to someone), but I suppose it rides just under the surface of me, and must have some spoor folks sense eventually.
Harboring this sort of complexity is difficult, especially when all of the developed facets cluster around this core person that tends to look people straight in the eyes, say exactly what she thinks, feel exactly what she feels, or be so obviously and miserably failing at being straightforward as to be hopelessly transparent all the time.
Sometimes I think the cynics have an easier time of it, for modern people can believe and trust cynicism more easily than they can the naivete that I've fought tooth and nail to preserve. (This is, by the way, one good reason for a healthfully bifurcated personality - one can have a warrior part that defends an innocent part, and the good of the Realm is maintained. Of course, having a Queen has been useful, too.)
I think this kind of transparency is difficult for other people, and it's hard on me as well. And I have no option but to strive all the time to be completely forthright and honest, for I figure that if I'm going to ask someone to deal with this wide a range of emotional phenomena, then the least I can do for them is be totally sincere, so they don't have to wonder about that part of it, at any rate.
Sometimes - often -I end up contradicting myself, but the contradictions are held by two legitimate parts of me that are struggling, each in its own way, towards integrity, towards integration. The contradictions are actually the workspace of myself (and the Other, when he chooses to play/enjoin), where I'm exploring the edges and the ramifications of various potential choices I could make, and slowly negotiating a compromise that brings the disparate - but not dismissed (hooray!) - parts of my mind together, so that I can grow to be of one mind.
I suppose it can be selfish, and I have to practice being considerate, and I could do a lot better job of paying more attention - these are all things I'm willing to, and have, continue to work on in everything I do. But there's some special ground that's laid between two intimates in love, and it's a very good place to heal one another, deeply - kind of like a zero gravity place, where baggage doesn't mean as much, nor weigh as heavy, and burdens are lifted and joys remembered.
I think I've developed this Inner Tao consciously, choosing to use myself as the bifurcated plane of consciousness that argues a truth into being, rather than taking one side and having/tricking/forcing my partner take the other.
I never function well in argumentative relationships because I always see both (and more) sides. I enjoy animated and far-reaching debate, and I like to have an application for my conclusions - hence the stories and the songs, and the poetry.
As far as the housewife thing goes, it doesn't appear that I'm going to get around to that for awhile, if ever (hence, perhaps, my interest in a rake such as yourself...) because I'm a practical woman. I know that I'm not going to be staying in Eugene - so there's work to be done to leave and get long-term responsibilities into a strong holding-pattern. I'm a business person. I'm societally active, and I'm an artist.
That doesn't leave a lot of time for husband shopping and, believe me, one glimpse of the little black dress and the martini, and any leanings in that direction are history for most guys anyway, happy as they'd be to think they could actually handle it. Mix it with a 64 Dodge beater, a real personal history that Tom Robbins would have probably given his eyeteeth to know, combined with the essence that writes these essays and, well, you can imagine the rest of the story...
In my practicality, I also know that very few guys are really cut out for my kind of partnership. Very few. You see, I really want that bit about "til death do us part." I want to mean it. I want to do it. I just don't want to stop living before I get to the "death" part.
So, in deference to your statement above that you didn't think I was looking for a husband, for your convenience I repost:
Written to you, around Sept. 20th or so:
"I, on the other hand, love the work of connecting. I love the reward of succeeding. I like the boundaries of commitment - I like their changing landscape, their negotiation, the juice of mis-steps reconciled and the respect of roads-not-taken. I was married for a decade, and I plan to be so again." ...
"...I realized that, in describing part of my history with Douglas, I’d sent you my "partnership manifesto" - the one that I recite to myself; the one that keeps me going at times when it seems that nothing I’m doing alone is worth it."
So, just to make it clear, you're correct - I'm not looking for a husband - *this week*.
Now, let's see what *you* have to say...
> I'm finally ready to declare myself. I am a ladies' man. A womanizer.
> A libertine. A rake. A rogue. A roui. A goddamn running loose dog.
I know this one, too, and well, this blinking neon sign at the Lone Man Cafe that flickers "open 24 hours - closed sometimes" throughout the lonely nights, a beacon for every woman within dancing distance who hungers for someone, just once, to really touch her soul.
And some of us seek out these places, and we'll trek through a bone-bleaching wasteland just to get close to someone who knows how to say that they know how - that they want to - love.
Good for you for having the courage to admit it. Good for you for having the strength to take it, and to take it all - every last piece that you can pull into your heart - for in the end, what do we have left but the love that we've actually known?
Not the love that we might have had, or that we once wanted, or that we died waiting for, but the love that we pursued, that we called for, that we prayed down into us and that, once present, we managed to clasp close and hold as long as our hearts could both breathe one air together.
>Despite many clear and cosmic messages that women (and death)
>were meant to be the curricula of my life -- my dharma -- and that
>practically everything I've done has been about trying to understand
>them, I resisted formal matriculation into this perilous course of
>study until well past the age when most men have already given up and
>settled into monogamies as comfortable and unquestioned as their
I think I danced this story in reverse. If you think back to the time when you were 26 or 27, and you saw a beautiful, tiny and lithe 15 year old girl swaying in the sun, long hair down in tangled waves, breasts just beginning to swell, arms raised, eyes closed to the music in her head, and the whisper of leaves - perhaps at dawn, perhaps by a lakeside, perhaps under a just-setting moon; that could have been me...
Perhaps you saw me once, at some gathering, on some mountain, in some field...who knows? Maybe you wondered about her life? About where she might end up, and what she might do - or even just how she got by from day to day, how she spent her nights, and what in the world did she possibly dream?
I spent those years often on the road, in between bouts of high school. The only monogamy possible was my commitment to freedom and to love - and I was completely faithful in my marriage to freedom and love.
What I learned over the years was more about the physiology of love and the endocrinology of connection. It is that knowledge that has moved me fully into a physical and emotional monogamy, still in the service of the fullest love.
Something happened when I was 19, and suddenly - literally, overnight, and I remember distinctly the night it happened, and the morning after, when I awoke - this young Cynthia, living with another Cynthia, in the Cynthia Hammond Apartments, on Hollywood's Cynthia Street just a block from the Roxy and the Rainbow Club (for I was a Rainbow Girl) - and painfully learned that I could no longer sleep with more than one man.
My body no longer lets me. It doesn't respond. And, if I push myself past the warning lights (that I sometimes, in the heat of it all, try to ignore), I have physical pain that lasts for days.
My body has become my own soul's sacred temple guardian. I suppose it figured out that my heart took the phrase "love everyone" completely literally, and had to step in to create the protections that my other legitimate selves - primarily physical, astral, mental and aetheric - needed in order to keep it all straight.
>love with her. Didn't believe in it, actually. I thought being in love
>was a myth people had invented to punish themselves for lacking it.
That may be true, John. It would certainly be human. Of course, the sublime humanity of it would be that, in inventing it, we gained it, and thus no longer lacked it.
>Fidelity always felt like work: an act of will rather than
This is odd, because for me Fidelity has been completely an act of Nature, and one that was imposed upon me by Nature, no less. My act of will has been to try to penetrate the whys and wherefores of this strange state of a free spirit in joyful bonded alliance to One Being.
I alluded to it in a previous post, this condition of taking on the aetheric energies of a man into me. I began to notice this in my early 20's. I don't know if it's a normal or uncanny sort of sensitivity that I have - it does at times feel like the sort of thing some of Them might have burned me for, had I lived 500 years ago.
But I feel as though the natural work of me, in relationship to a man, is to reflect that man in subtle but deeply reverberant ways that let him touch parts of himself that he may not have known, or loved, before. I feel that part of a woman's job - the work of it, and I mean the effort, as well as the natural flow - is to be a good mirror, through keen observation, reception and perception, and let the one I love see himself as clearly as I can see him.
Since I have a lot of junk in my own field, it takes work over time to set him clear in me, and to carry him in a way that doesn't frustrate nor inhibit the evolution of either of us. And the quality of what I resonate is directly proportionate to the capacity for love and focused attention that he can bring into us, and the strength that he has for staying engaged. Truly - these are rules of engagement.
I don't demand fidelity, but what I notice is that men wear women's fields, too. It becomes too murky after awhile when the man I hold wears more than my field. When it's murky, I can't resonate well. When I can't resonate, the love changes from Eros to Agape, and Philos, and other sorts of things that are grand, and full, but different. Eros is the only love that keeps my body open.
You suggested we'd find a space of time "somewhere between a one night stand and eternity." I certainly hope we get that far. I guess it's pretty simple really. But this is the first time ever that I think I've said it so plainly. Thanks.
And now, since we're on the subject of baggage, I'd like to close with my final bit of baggage for the evening. It's not nearly as "for public consumption" as your essay (that I loved, by the way, though I'm not quite sure I'm ready to forward that onto Mother. We'll see), but, as my dear friend Tina Lear says "If you don't have any baggage, you're not going anywhere."
>If just once in your life you've put all of your emotional
>eggs in one basket, only to have that basket smashed almost
>immediately, it inclines you toward more distributed systems of
There's another reason I'm not so desirable for short-or-long term, as most sincere people I know have good intentions for longevity and strive towards it, but will accept the risk of abbreviation - especially when it's their choice.
I've been thinking about this reason a bit lately and, as I've watched my feeling for you grow (and I've been taking my pre-occupation's temperature to see how far off kilter I'm veering in my thinking toward you), I've debated whether or not to bring it up, but I know I have to.
I think I'd rather say it now, when I can say it fully, and not get a lot of other emotions mixed up into it. I think I'd like to offer it to you now, so that if it matters, then you can do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. I hesitate, because I've had such fun over the last few months writing to you, and feeling a very interesting kind of love for you grow, so I'm frightened because I realize that, on top of everything else, this may change things and, while I'd like more with you, I hate to risk moving to less.
But I don't have any choice. As you say:
And scrupulous honesty, though it requires courage on both sides,
>is a lot more practical than most men believe it to be.
So, I'm going to be so here. It's practical, because neither of us has any time to waste, and I'd just as soon know up front if this was something you were up for. If it's all right, I'd kind of like to only talk about it this once and, if there's an "again", maybe once more in person, unless the language is only positive, and only about living *for* and healing and building. I have to reframe a lot of difficult things here, and so this has to be a no-fear zone, and it isn't yet.
I have a tumor.
I do the right things. It's been biopsied twice. There's an 80% chance it's benign. We don't know. We can't know unless we take it out. If we take it out, benign or cancerous, we still have to remove my thyroid gland. Just the operation puts my vocal chords at risk and I may not sing again after the operation. I also go on synthetic hormones, or have to begin to engage in dramatic work to naturally supplement them. I can't do any of this while I own the Barn, anyway. The doctors say I don't have to do anything until it changes again. So, I'm tumor racing. Packing a lot of life in while I can. Trying to sing. Trying to sell the store. Trying to find another Voice. Gathering courage. Trying not to leave a mess.
Mostly trying not to leave a mess.
There, that's said. I hope that doesn't scare you off. We'll see what happens, won't we?
Now, back to the flow of this night, and the next full days, when tomorrow night I'm going to put on my duds and curl my hair and catch all the batchelors over at Sky Wine and the Gift Shop, in their last minute shopping for girlfriends that they've tried, successfully til this moment, to pretend that they didn't have.
But honesty forces them, every year at that last critical moment of Christmas's Eve, to realize that if they don't come up with a good present by night's end, they might not get a good present from her again, at least not for the rest of the year - and so I sell the batchelors a bottle of wine, and try to make them feel a bit better about love, and how it's not so bad.
And then it's working on Christmas when I open the store for that little 4 hours, and have hot spiced cider and save people from having to eat Pop Tarts and Beef Jerkey on Christmas Day, just me and Saint George, a slayin' them dragons...
-- Anonymous, December 23, 2001