Friday, April 28, 2017

Committed to Sadness

Last night, I asked VJ out. I did part of the whole "date" shabang (I say "date" because I'm not sure any of us date anymore. But - another post, another time). I made a phonecall, invited him out, got dressed up, made reservations, arrived there early, etc. In my head, he was always locked away as the one who got away, the what-if, the One-if-only-I'd-had-the-balls-to-put-myself-out-there. And it was nice. There was conversation, and some laughter, and good food. At the end of the day, I'm not sure if the dinner plan was a good one (we've never really ever had a conversation so I wasn't entirely sure about what he enjoys except his work) but I was happy that I had created that opportunity. Later my friend asked me how it was, and I said - it was nice. Nicer than many other situations I've found myself in. 

And therein lies the problem. The Nicer. The Better. The Comparison.

 Just recently I was having a conversation with my friend Rob about his marriage. It was on the rocks, and as part of the alimony, his lovely wife was demanding to be knocked up. And Rob was considering it. Now, I'm not a particularly maternal person, and I’ve never felt the call of my womb to be filled with alien dna or the desire of my vagina to shoot out a watermelon-sized spawn into the world. That said, I do know that some women still do - what baffled me was this woman’s need to do all of the above with someone who was not interested in sticking around, and whom she despised enough to legally eject from her world. 

And yet, she wanted a piece of him inside of her, and around her, for as long as the little one survived. He, on the other hand, just saw the sperm as the next step, not someone who would become a living breathing embodiment of parts of you you didn’t even know existed, but just something he had to get over with so he could get his freedom.

A recipe for disaster, right? Maybe. 

But the roots of this gigantic mess lie in the words “She’s not like the other girls….” And thus starts a story with its foundations in quicksand. The problem is - Rob (and possibly many others out there) made a choice about a life partner based on all their experiences of other people out there. In today's world of dating, there is no lack of options. If you’re reasonably attractive, clean, well-mannered, well-spoken and even passingly employed (or have prospects), it won’t be hard to find someone to hook up / hang out / netflix and chill with. It’s easy, and that’s really great. 

The downside to that is the sheer empirical knowledge that there is someone better out there. Of course there is, so why bother investing in this person in front of you when a better one is right around the corner, right? And in this world of spotting the best deal, you meet The One. And she’s great.

She’s not like S who was a vegetarian and always made a face when you ordered a cheeseburger.
She’s not like A who used to hog the sheets and didn’t like football.
She’s not like D who had hang ups about sex.
She’s not like N whose parents hated you
She’s definitely not like E who was always smoking up
And not like SS who - well, something was off about her. Total Psycho.

But The One - She’s not like SADNESS at all. You’re not quite sure what she is about, but since she’s not like the others, it’s a good place to start. The problem with this method of elimination is that you spend more time thinking about your experience of SADNESS than you do about The “One” in front of you. Sure she doesn’t hog the sheets, but she doesn’t brush her teeth either before breakfast. Ofcourse her parents really like you but they insist that you join them for morning prayers every weekend. And for sure she doesn’t smoke or imbibe any kind of hallucinogens, but her closest friends are ex-heroin addicts with whom she may or may not have had some kind of sexual history.

My point is this -  When we talk of commitment, what exactly are we committing to? My friend Rob said, “I married her right? That meant I was committed to her.” Did it though? Does signing a piece of paper - that can be negated by signing another piece of equally available paper - mean you’re committed to un-sexy things like a person’s happiness, well-being, growth and future? Are you committed to even changing yourself if that is needed to achieve all those things? Is that even possible when all we know about them is that they’re NOT SADNESS?

And all this makes me worry. 

I worry about Rob and Tom and Alex and all the others out there. I worry about myself too. I worry that we have all lost the ability to see a person for who they are and make the effort to discover that something which is extraordinary about them. Not just that, I worry that even when we find something amazing about them, we find it almost impossible to commit to it, to provide the active participation needed to nurture it and see it flourish. And further, I worry that if someone does in fact recognise the beautiful and unique in us, and volunteers to provide the care we need, we refuse to accept their particular brand of nurturing because - well - there are better, warmer, more charming, more networked nurturers out there.

Most worrying is the simple truth that even when we sit across from the potentially amazing at a dinner table, all we see is how easy or difficult it is for us to be around them, whether they love us for who we are without demanding the exact same thing from us, if they validate our illusion of ourselves without expecting that we do the same for them.  And in that process, we manage to deal ourselves out from the wonderful that they are and we could be because we preferred to minimize them to what we had known and thus, who we had become.

And that's what's really sad.

At the end of the day, I worry that in the process of running from all the SADNESS in our lives, sadness is the only thing we're comfortable committing to.