Blue Arrangements on a Pedastal

31 08 2009

Have I ever mentioned how I’ve grown to appreciate the concept of arranged marriages?  I may not be a fan of it in practice, to be honest, and it’s certainly not for use in my life, but there are certain facets and implications of the convention that are, in fact, very appealing.

First, I think that far too high a premium is put, in our culture, on the need for romantic love.  People tend to put their desire for romantic love firmly in mental place as a cornerstone of their life.  Their need to be attached to the “love of their life” forever is largely destined to crush them repeatedly during the courses of their lives:  how often do people find someone they are very into only to find that the fervor is unreturned?  How often do they find it reciprocated only to find somewhere down the line that they, as humans, are subject to changing, and their partner and they are no longer so compatible?  How long do they spend in the interims, empty of the love they believe they deserve, unable to find someone to fulfill and by whom to be fulfilled, needlessly worrying themselves about their value and their ability to “find happiness?”  Find happiness?  In another person?  Let me say that I believe fully in certain other people bringing out parts of you that you are very happy to know exist.  And it’s amazing to find that you are sometimes able to do the same thing for another.  I’m sure your best friends do the same thing for you.  I suppose the only difference is that you don’t have sex with them?  Unless you do.  So everyone wants a true best friend with whom they can have sex?  But I digress.

There are myriad problems with this situation on an interpersonal level, of course.  It’s too much pressure for one to put on oneself.  And it becomes too much pressure for two to put on one another.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve known of people to have complete mental breakdowns over the failure of a relationship.  I know people who’ve not recovered after years.  I’ve known of people who have ended their lives over it.  One degree of separation!

How is an arranged marriage any better?  Well, I’m not saying it is.  I’m saying there are advantages (forget about the fact that most arranged marriages are set up for financial or political reasons, which is largely crap) to the convention.  I think that knowing that you’re going to be marrying someone you don’t really know opens up your mind to meeting them halfway a lot more easily than those who have their egos wrapped up in their love relationships.  It all but demands a casual approach to the relationship, a need to listen attentively and understand your partner’s goals.  Since you’re both in the same boat, you’ll certainly be hoping that they’re doing the same for you.  You can’t expect them to act according to your specifications, nor they you.  For a while anyway.  But the fact that you’re two people (or more, or less if you have multiple personalities, I’ve no puritanical misgivings…  or even givings) put into a a single goal is going to foster a team dynamic, an agreement of collaboration that I think is often lacking in the self-centered needfulness of our overindulgent concept of romantic love.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m down with romantic love.  I’m biologically programmed!  And I definitely get unbelievably excited when I meet someone I want to be around, whom I want to know better, for whom I want to do nice things.  Someone to whom I didn’t *want* to be attracted, but to whom I am strongly attracted anyway.  It’s a great feeling.  It’s almost unworldly.  It’s really uncommon.  I just think some people put an unhealthy priority on it in their lives and make themselves far less satisfied with the wonder that their lives otherwise afford them.  There’s a balance to be struck.

Don’t listen to me though.  I have longish hair.



28 08 2009

that title promises a little something that the post surely won’t provide, though it’s clear to me already that i’ve decided thoughtlessly that this one shall go forth without proper capitalization.  i do not seek your forgiveness or understanding.  i have had an abnormal day of repeated naps, general isolation, and a peanut butter sandwich.

one of the rudimentary concepts in particle physics, and one that i feel is taken for being unremarkable by many, is schrodinger’s wave function.  it’s simple enough, which i think is why it’s overlooked—it basically says that from any moment, there is a certain number of possibilities moving forward in a timeline, and possibilities further forward in a timeline for every possibility there is.  the point is that when you’re not measuring anything, you can’t know what is happening, but you can know what might be happening.  BUT.  the moment you check it, the moment you measure what’s happening, the wave function collapses, and only what you see happens.  the rest of the possibilities are quashed forever.

Get it?

Get it?

i may have never known that my primary neurosis in decisionmaking could be so beautifully described by an austrian theoretical physicist who was born nearly a century before myself, but if schrodinger’s wave function doesn’t do just that, the awesomest cat in the world isn’t named wesley. and can we all just face the fact that he is?

Mr. Awesome!

Mr. Awesome!

i’ll admit that i don’t think it’s a good way to live any longer; it drives me crazy how habituated my brain is to ceaselessly reappraising the situation and extrapolating all possible outcomes from all of my possible actions.  but this is what i do.  what good is it?  i’m sure there are practical applications, but i do this during perfectly normal conversations.  “i like your shirt, doug” is all it takes for my brain to open 5 wormholes of chance (at least):  1.  take off shirt and throw it at them  2.  compliment something of theirs if at all possible  3.  say “thanks”  4.  pretend i’m not this “doug” of whom they are speaking.  and each of these must be thought through to be sure i’m not offending, freaking out, or inviting more conversation than i’d like.  regardless of the fact that i nearly invariably choose the one to keep everyone comfortable (or get a cheap laugh), i will then start walking through the rest of the possibilities in my mind, often laughing at the awesome things i chose not to do.

can you imagine what it’s like when i’m making actual decisions?  do you think shock therapy would help?

sorry, i was just fantasizing about different soup flavors that might be soaked into the wooden spoon on which they make me bite down.

i’m joshing around a bit too much.  what i’m really talking about is the sincere regret i feel every time i make a decision to the exclusion of other things i don’t find objectionable.  does anyone else have this problem?  with the possibilities in front of me, with the wave riding amplitudinally high, i’m satisfied enough, but as soon as the moment of truth comes and i have to pick something, the wave collapses, and i’m standing on the desolate spot of my choosing.  what i need to teach myself is that the wave equation itself provides for a whole new amplitudinally rancorous wave at the very moment of my choosing, and that’s good stuff, right?  there’s never a lack of choice.  still, this is a tough trick for me for some reason.

seriously, does this affect anyone else?  i have a decision to make, and, as often, i have made it like as such:  i will not reread this for coherency or grammar correction.  not that any of the dolts who read this page would know the difference.  zing!

Foot Fetish!

25 08 2009

This evening, I had the pleasure of dining with a really great friend from my days in DC.  She was telling me about a recent date on which she’d been, during which she noticed that her companion was stealing frequent and not-so-furtive looks at her legs.  His boldness seemed to be an invitation to notice his interest, and she was fast becoming anxious, so finally she asked if there was something down there puzzling him.

“No,” he replied, and told her know that he was just admiring her legs and feet, which I will corroborate, are splendid.  He was apparently especially interested in her feet, which he found unendingly beautiful.  She asked whether this was something to which he typically paid attention, and he replied that it was.  He further posited that it was his interest in feet, he believed, that had spoiled his previous relationship of two months.  His jo thought his predilection offputting, and told him so on many occasions before finally breaking it off with him.  At this point, he raised his eyes to hers, and said that he thought it was basically a hangup of his ex’s.  He then inquired of my friend whether she too found it unusual, that he should find such a particular part of anatomy so transfixing.

She thought: “Yes.  That is very creepy and I don’t like the fact that you are spending more time ogling my feet than getting to know me, or even appreciating my sweet rack*.”   But she said:  “I guess not.  It’s kind of flattering that you find them so pleasing.”  Of course, as she was creeped out by him, she did not want to go on a second date with him, but she left him with the impression that she would be interested.  After she’d excused herself from the next handful of his courtship requests, he asked her, on the phone, if it actually was a problem that he was so interested in her feet, if it was a bit of a turn-off, or weird, or creepy, or gross.  She thought:  “Hm.  All of the above?”  She said: “No.  I’m just really busy and don’t have so much time for dating right now.

To which I tsked her. Tsk tsk.  She and I are very similar, and I could have told you before she finished the first part of the story that she would be incredibly put off by his inability to focus on the fact that she is a human person, and that she would never tell him that she was put off by his foot fetish.  But why?  Especially when he so clearly asked her the question to which they both knew the answer, and he was only looking for someone to call him out on his unwelcomed behavior.

She pointed out that I, too, have had my trouble being direct with people when it should be a matter of course, and I couldn’t argue with history, though it had been a while since we’d hung out, and I’m far more direct than once I was.  We both dislike confrontation, we both hate to hurt others’ feelings, it’s true.  Peacemakers we are.

I quickly pointed out that we weren’t talking about me (score!) and asked her if she didn’t agree that she should have been more honest with him.  She said she didn’t want to judge him, even though she kind of did, but her feelings were her feelings and didn’t necessarily need to be withheld.  So she agreed.  I left her with a homework assignment:  to figure out what she feared might occur when she hesitated to be direct with someone.  Was it that they would no longer think she was nice?  Was it that they might get upset?  It could be different things for different situations, and I thought it would be interesting to try to figure out how many different reasons she had for shying away from directness, or honesty, or whatever you’d like to call it.

I think that maybe some of the reasons she’s concerned about being too blunt were folded into her behavior so long ago that she’ll find some of them no longer apply, and she’ll be able to save herself a little annoyance or two by figuring it out.  Of course, I say that because she’s like me, and I think that’s something with which I’ve dealt reasonably successfully in the past couple of years.  Mostly.

A note on the poignancy of our discussion:  I had a really hard time being direct with someone painfully recently!  I had a number of reasons, some of which are still valid, for having a difficult go of it, but I eventually spat it out as anxiously and awkwardly as can be done.  Now, there is certainly something to be said for being able to handle certain situations with a degree of class, ease, and coherency, but the point is that even if you did it with absolutely none of these, still there is something very good about directness.  Even from such a trainwreck of communication, you and the offended (or not so offended) party can venture forth.  Or sally forth.  Is that the phrase?  You can be direct with me if I have used that phrase inadvisedly.

My point is, I guess, that people have to be responsible for their own feelings at some point, and I’ve come to be a fan of full disclosure.  And now apparently I think it’s okay to browbeat others into agreeing with me?  Doesn’t everyone love not having to wonder?  I’m going to end my rambling on this sentence, with the word “MORE.”

*Author admits elaboration of this thought

scrambled airplane brains

13 08 2009

imagine that you are in an airplane, looking out the window.  rivers, roads, mountains.  what you see in a minute could take you days to traverse.  it’s a big world down there, an entire ecology from which an organism must make its survival, travel, and place.  it’s a life—it’s everything to anything which lives there, the totality of their world.  it’s a few forgettable moments up here.

today i was on a plane, and i was imagining myself in another world where things changed randomly all the time.  i’m a 31-year-old man on the road, and suddenly i’m grilling chicken for my wife and kids.  the chicken… oh, it’s shrimp, and i’ll turn down the heat and take them off the fire soon.  i’m holding a sword and there’s a man asking about its age and i think he’s going to make me an offer on it.  i’m back on the plane, but on the plane, we’re all peeling oranges, and someone opens a window.

my idealized version of me has the ability to feel at home no matter what the circumstances.  he isn’t afraid of anything, doesn’t mind if things don’t go to plan, is genuinely happy to be a part of anything of which he is in the middle.  he avoids nothing, embraces everything, listens well, and is never concerned about consequences or opinions, because he knows they are both fabrications.  in fact, he knows that his world is so arbitrary that taking something poorly is to be upset that he rolled a 6 instead of a 4.  every moment is full of uniqueness and a complexity that are inconceivable to the human mind, and this must be why it is better to accept and roll with every strange thing that comes along.

it’s important to understand the world this way because as stupid as it sounds, reality is every bit as capricious as the fantasy involving orange rinds flying out of the airplane window.  to say that something is ordered is to say that it is predictable enough to attach oneself to it, and this is what we do all of the time as humans.  i have a mother.  i bought an apple.  i am a doctor.  absolutely anything with which one chooses to identify oneself can be erased faster than can be imagined, in fact will be erased at some point, and yet we attach ourselves to these ideas just the same.  in effect, we take the gift of consciousness and use it to constantly redefine our ideas about our dinky, useless selves.

what could reality be besides defining our relationship to the generally consistent but wholly inaccurate flux of our perceptions?  um, how about anything?

my goal of being comfortable in any situation, for which i have been constantly working for over a year now, is unmasked as a need to stop caring in the least about comfort.  i’ve slept in my car, on private land, at new acquaintances’ homes, spoken at length to people i was already convinced i disliked.  for all of the awkward yesses i’ve given during my quest to refuse nothing and be pleased about anything, perhaps i was really only trying to stop myself from considering what “i” was convinced i liked/wanted/was.

perspective is everything.