Sunday, November 30, 2014

If I Could Speak

If I could speak, 
I would talk of my soul
Once radiant and blissful
Now withered and old

If I could speak
I would talk of love
How it flowed from my fingers
But now makes tapestries of dust

If I could speak
I would talk of laughter
Of gatherings steeped in music
Now just hollow echoes forever

If I could speak
I would ask for your hand
To pull me away
From the corpse that I am

If I could speak
I would whisper my fears
And know that I was heard
That I wasn’t alone with my tears

If I could speak
My silence would end
And when tomorrow comes
Maybe I’ll finally start to mend.

If I could speak…

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Too Much Honesty

There is such a thing. 

When I was a kid, I used to lie compulsively. I lied about my exams, homework, bodily functions, friends, etc. It came easily to me. And then, one scary day when my lies were discovered for what they were by my ferocious mother, I finally got a life lesson that shaped the rest of my existence. She said, “If you’re lying, it means you’re afraid. And I didn’t raise you to be afraid of anything.” Except her. I was afraid of her. But more than that, I was afraid of seeing that disappointed expression on her face again. 

That’s the day I quit lying. Well, I quit telling blatant lies. I know how to spin a tale as well as the next person, but never do I consciously tell outright lies. In fact, my biggest area of lie-telling is in the realm of punctuality and the time-space continuum. Not so bad, considering there’s a whole world out there telling lies about murder and mayhem.

But there is definitely a down-side to all this honesty. For one, not everyone believes the ’truth’. For example, “I don’t love you” starts to sound like “I’m scared of my feelings and I’m emotionally closed off so please continue with your attentions while I realize that I do in fact love you.” Just as a BTW - this one actually lost me a friend and a lover. 

The other truths I have told in my life have revolved around my work. 

I said: “There’s no point making changes to a screenplay based on feedback from people who will have no say in its making” 

They heard: “I have no intention to work on this further. Screw you.”

I said: "I would love to work with you but if you think our relationship will ever transcend the professional, then maybe it’s not a good idea”

They heard: You can keep trying and who knows? Late nights, wine, movies… anything can happen.

I said: Wow… this (script, film, business plan, food) is really good. You ARE talented!

They heard: Let’s get naked and start sexy time.

No, its not always about sex but then, it mostly is. Then there’s the other stuff that comes up linked to self-esteem (I say no, he hears yes, I say no again, he says terrible things to retaliate for teasing and rejection), and of course, friendship. 

I always thought friendship was the one thing that could handle honesty. That was because you chose your friends, not because of the things you feared but because of the things that made you stronger with each friendship. You liked to spend time with each other not because of dread but of solidarity. And what shows greater solidarity and indeed, respect, if it isn’t the commitment to honesty with each other? Sure, we’ve all told the odd “You look lovely” and “of course he still loves you” white lies. But when it comes to the big things - well, it seems total honestly may not be the best policy. 

I say: If I support you in this, you make me lie to everyone else

They hear : I don’t love you so clearly we can’t be friends anymore.

I say: You’ve told me many things in the past that haven’t worked out. This time, I want to see proof.

They hear: I don’t trust you and hence, we can’t be friends anymore

I say: You’re cheating on your wife/husband? Why aren’t you talking to them about all that’s wrong? Or does security matter so much that you’d rather they live not knowing that they don’t have you?

They hear: You’re wrong and we can’t be friends anymore.

I say: You shouldn’t drink anymore because you can’t hold it and start becoming difficult to handle.

They hear: You’re an alcoholic and we can’t be friends anymore.

And so on and so forth.

I understand that it seems harsh, but the truth is that I could just as easily have said that right thing that wouldn’t ruffle any feathers and keep the boat un-rocked. But what’s the point of that? When we choose friends, we choose them for making us better, not just to fill space around us. And one of the ways of being better is to be less fearful of the world around us. Maybe that’s why one should tell the truth to the ones closest to us… make us stronger. No?

A few days ago however, I watched Interstellar and the best thing I liked about it was the cool robot with a 80% honesty setting, because “emotional creatures like humans can’t handle the whole truth.” That robot probably got it right, and it doesn’t even need friends. Maybe it's high time I got the message.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The F Grade

Have you noticed how, for the most important things in the world, we have years of compulsory preparation before we're allowed to do the real thing? Engineers, doctors, lawyers, designers, quantum physicists, etc - all of them and million others go through decades of education, examinations, late night studying, endless cups of coffee poring over theories and conducting practicals under controlled, laboratory conditions. All this is for jobs of which there are plenty.

Compare that to the very little time and incredibly limited chances we have of meeting the "one" or even the "five people in your world who totally get you and also want to sleep with you over the long term and whom you're attracted to as well" - and I'm stunned at the level of unpreparedness and naivete with which we enter the world of romance and love.

The other day I was hanging with a friend of mine called Kenneth. He's also in the film-making business, has managed to get two films, one marriage, two kids and a divorce under his belt. These days he spends his time working on his next film, his kids' futures and making his way around the party circuit. That evening the conversation was predictably heading towards the nature of relationships and how it's better to continue to play the field - given that the curiosity of marriage and kids has been assuaged - instead of settling in for the long haul. And between laughs and inevitable joshing, he said, "It's not that I'm afraid of a relationship, I'm afraid of getting bored."

And I got to thinking - is that my phobia as well? Over the last couple of years, I've been in an on-again-off-again bizarre little mating dance with someone who was going to be my third-time-lucky nominee. Again, a film-maker, again the prototype of tall, cute and awkward and again someone whom I'd have to take care of. (Sigh - it's not that my patterns shock me, it's just what they say about me - in this case, they say that I'd rather choose weak than risk losing control. Ugh.) The good news is that despite being the nominee, he only barely entered into my emotional space.

And then I thought about Alex. He and I have been through the crapper and back, but we've always been able to communicate with each other, laugh with each other. He's enough of a guy to remind me that l'm feminine, and non-threatening enough to remind me of my strength. And yet, I can't for the life of me imagine anything long-term with him. Too much stinky murky water under the bridge.

And apart from this lot, I'm sure there have been many who were right for me, who were what I needed, and who potentially wouldn't have bored me either. So why didn't I take that leap? I blame the fact that I wasn't suitably prepared.

The thing is - this one thing - the romantic-sexual relationship is one of the most important ones we share with another being. It has a way of getting into our heads, of leaving a fairly indelible mark and deciding for us - based on the level of fucked-up-ness of it - if we're going to be well-adjusted productive people or just hurting beings who slash and cut through the rest of the world around us - friends, families alike - in a blind way of curing the pain.

And given that it's going to affect so much of our and other peoples' lives, that it's going to be a significant factor in our happiness quotient, we still step into it, without so much as cracking open a book or even learning the alphabet of romance. And then we wonder why there are so many divorces, apathetic hook-ups, why fewer people want to have kids, why fewer people are choosing to be married, and even in that fraction, how many of them are delaying their marriage and kids choice. Hell, I'm willing to wager that's why more people prefer text messaging and online chatter to the real thing!

Because we give the responsibility of raising a tribe to unprepared 12 year olds with their first relationships that can mark them for life... Let the scarring begin! If we have dysfunctional relationships, we will have a dysfunctional society. And a dysfunctional society will only support messed up relationships.

This chicken and egg routine has gone on long enough. Everywhere we turn, we are assaulted by post-apocalyptic imagery because somewhere we as a society have come to accept that the only way ahead for us is down. We train in the martial arts, we read about zombies, we go to boot camps and learn to create fire, we go to schools and learn about the arts - but no one goes anywhere to learn about love, compassion, kindness and mutual respect. The general argument is that society is supposed to teach that, but the fact that while everywhere else, we look to the experts, it's only in this crucial realm that we look to the flawed, non-expert, muddling along amateurs with a terrible track record to teach us these most critical lessons in survival.

Is it any real wonder then that as a society we achieve greatness in the sciences and the arts, but also devolve into such barbaric hatred for each other that it barely touches our consciousness when a judge says that non-consensual sex with a menopausal woman can't be considered rape, and the way you love another person could put you in jail?

It's no surprise really then that we keep hoping for a reset button through zombies, interplanetary travel or anything supernatural - because we know that maybe we as humans failed at our most elementary subject.