Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Comments On Comments (On Comments…)

I’d like to thank the viewers of The McVie Show who take time out to interact, give comments and feedback, whether positive or negative. So far almost all of the comments are sensible. Thank god for comment moderation, mwhahaha.

Because the latest episode generated lengthy reactions, I’ve decided to lift them out of backstage and plunk them right smack on center stage.

* * * * *

ANONYMOUS ONE said: “If by experiencing life to the fullest means experiencing everything it has to offer, then pity and envy those who have never experienced true love—for the best and worst that life has to offer is yet to come.”

I believe that experiencing life to the fullest means experiencing everything one can, given their limited time and opportunities on earth. Meaning, one cannot possible experience everything, as in everything, on this earth. Yeah, yeah, nagpapakapilosopo ako, hehehe.

But let’s take it seriously for a minute here. I believe no one is physically capable of experiencing everything life has to offer here on earth (and even beyond, like maybe Mars!). So there will be those who will experience an Ateneo education and those who won’t. There are those who will experience a La Salle education and those who won’t. Most likely these are the people who will be at each other’s throats come college basketball time.

Given that, I therefore have decided that I will neither pity not envy others as much as possible, to the best of my abilities, because of the following reasons. First, everyone has his or her own unique lives to live and no one is better or worse for it. And second, what is true love? Is it true romantic love? True filial love? True platonic love? True agape? Can someone define “true love”? Maybe if we can agree on what “true love” means then I can determine if indeed it is to be envied or not.

* * * * *

POLITE_MEGALOMANIAC said: “The basis of a marriage vow is this: your partner is more important to you than everyone else. It’s as simple as that.”

Are you talking about religious vows or legal vows? Do legal vows also state explicitly that your partner is more important than everyone else? I’m not familiar with marriage laws.

But what about this line of thinking wherein “the good of the many outweigh the good of the few or the one”? Indulge me in a what-if scenario. Pretend you’re in a lifeboat with several people, and two more in the water: your partner and another person. You can save only one. Here are your options:
[1] You can save your partner. The consequence? You doom everyone because the boat will surely sink.
[2] You can save the other person. The consequence? Your partner dies, everyone else has a fighting chance to survive.
[3] You can sacrifice yourself and leave the boat (either you can join your partner in the water, or you’ll be the only one left in the water). The consequence? Only you are skilled enough to keep the boat afloat, so by leaving the boat you doom everyone to die.
[4] You can get someone else already in the boat to throw into the water. The consequence? Removing any one already in the boat will cause the boat to fall apart, throwing everyone into the sea sans boat.

Notice in the situation above, either only one person dies (unfortunately it has to be your partner) or everyone dies.

Another example: Given birth complications, the doctors can only save either your wife, who has suffered severe brain damage and will be a vegetable for the rest of her life, or your firstborn child who still has a chance at living a normal life; whom will you choose? Will you choose to save your wife because she’s the more important person hands-down, all the time, with no exceptions—as per your vows?

I guess it really depends on one’s set of values and beliefs. You want to make your partner “the most important person above everyone else, period”? Go ahead. You want to make your partner “the most important person above everyone else most of the time, but with exceptions”? Hey, whatever floats your boat.

I believe choosing who is “more important” can be tricky and should be considered on a case-to-case basis. Yes, the two scenarios I presented are unlikely and improbable. But that is why I prefer to always qualify things. Yes, I do like to keep things simple but at the back of my head I am always open to the possibility that complications can occur and things need not be black and white all the time.

* * * * *

POLITE_MEGALOMANIAC said: “…to find that one person who for you is the most important person in your life is actually a good thing.”

No argument that it’s a good thing. But here’s a question: what if you don’t? Another question: what if you find more than one person? Still another question: what if you find someone you think was the most important (at that time), made a vow with him, and then you meet someone else who, upon reflection, seems the epitome of your “soul mate” (it’s actually a song that goes “Oh it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along”)? What then?

Sigh, I wish things were that simple.

* * * * *

ACROBAT said: “do you think choosing ‘perpetual’ singlehood is just being selfish?”

Selfishness is putting your needs and wishes above, or even ignoring, those of others. Choosing perpetual singlehood isn’t selfish if there is no “other” to speak of.

* * * * *

ANONYMOUS TWO said: “For me it is not a question of hierarchy.”

Okay, I see your point. Experiencing the love of “someone special” means experiencing a different kind of love and experiencing more of what life has to offer. In this case, the longing is to experience a different kind of love, not a more important kind of love. That’s all well and good.

What makes me uncomfortable is a statement like, “The relationship with my partner is more important than the relationship with my family or friends.” That kind of statement implies assigning values to your different relationships; but as you said, “How can you compare your love for your parents as against your love for a husband, wife, or lover?” I prefer a statement like, “The relationship with my partner is different from the relationship with my family or friends.” At least it doesn’t force me into making a McVie’s Top Ten List of Most Important Relationships Ever.

* * * * *

ANONYMOUS TWO said: “But sometimes, though, they turn a blind eye to the fact that they are just afraid to be in a relationship.”

I would be lying if I said I do not long to meet someone special and to be in a relationship. But I am also self-aware enough that I try to guard myself against self-destructive thinking which may mask a fear of being in a relationship which may mask a fear of rejection or a fear of failure. I am also aware that all this self-awareness may not be enough, that there are things about me that others need to point out to me (remember the Johari window?). Or that I’m actually already lying to myself, but I’m deluding myself into thinking I’m not. Hey, I’m not Peter Perfect. :-)

But in the meantime, while there is no one extra-special in my life, I choose not to be burdened by it.

(Notice how I need to talk about this in The McVie Show? That’s me trying to convince myself not to be burdened by it. Notice how self-aware I am? But even with this self-awareness, I’m still not that cocky-sure of things. Jeez, I need to shut off my mind once in a while.)


polite megalomaniac said...

In the context of the hypothetical that you just raised, it is a tricky question, but one that is not really the point. When one says that a person is the most important person in one’s life, it means that he makes you happy, happier than anyone can or is willing to, and that you make him happy, happier that anyone can or is willing to. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll let a group of people die in a boat while they’re drowning, or that you’d let a child die because your partner might die.

To put a twist to your scenario regarding the boat, and to point out why I think it’s a weak argument; change the word partner to ‘mother’. Assuming that you won’t let a boatful of people die to save your mother, does that mean that the boatful of people you just saved are more important to you than her? Of course not. You realize the importance of 10 other lives compared to the one your mother has which is why you might be willing to let your mother drown to save those 10 other lives. But, I doubt anyone would be willing to say that those 10 people are more important to you than your mother.

However, if you believe that the 10 people are more important to you, then we’re working on completely different premises, and it would better serve us to agree to disagree.

And regarding meeting someone who you think is more important than the person you’re with now, that is precisely why I included this statement in my previous comment, “And yes, just because you thought you found the One doesn't mean you actually had found the One.” I’m talking about a scenario where you actually, truly have found a person you’re willing to spend the rest of your life with, and not just think that you have.

PS. Regarding legal vows, the Family Code does not state explicitly that the partner is more important than everyone else, but it is implicit in the law if you study the code. However, using the word “important” can be unwieldy and impractical when talking about real life situations, and the courts will have a difficult time defining the word if it was to be used so it’s not really part of the provisions.

However, to prove my point, you’ll see several provisions that show that your husband/wife is given preferred status over everyone else you already know, or would acquaint yourself with. Even children are emancipated by the time they reach 18; lifelong partners do not have the same opportunity. Which is why they’re called lifelong in the first place.

Jedd said...

Even if you feel that it might not last, or even if you feel you don't essentially need one anyway, the only way you can really tell is if you committed to a monogamous, long-term relationship. Not from presumptions, theories, etc.

Just like one of the commenters had said: Pag may longing, may longing. Period. Everything else is just self-validation.

Go gurl!

joelmcvie said...

POLITE_MEGALOMANIAC: Bingo! Great point you made regarding the use of the word “important.” We have been using the word “important” in different contexts. My previous understanding of “most important” was that you would put your partner’s welfare, needs and wants above everyone else’s. Which to me sounded too absolute.

So according to you, “most important” means that you and he can make each other happier than anyone else. Then your previous statement, “The basis of a marriage vow is this: your partner is more important to you than everyone else” makes more sense to me now. Had you said, “The basis of a marriage is this: your partner is the one who makes you happier than anyone can or is willing to, and vice versa,” then all these scenarios would never have come up in the first place.

At least your point is more claro m recto to me now.

ie said...

i think my punchlines are way overdued, but let me still try and see if they still work.

all these philosophizing about love and relationships are, frankly, futile. for me, there's so much to and in love and relationships that a person, isolated, can and will never fully comprehend.

all we have are but estimations of the real things. it's easy to say that one romanticizes, and then the other is just playing pilosopo when it comes to matters of love, but when one tries to look at both, one sees that they are just the same banana: trying to understand something that is far beyond their grasp, their imagination.

what i think is the bottom line when it comes to love is ironically, the cliche, that you just know (or you are certain about it, to a certain extent) but never really understand. i know it sounds ridiculous, and that, i would like to believe, is the point.