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.

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