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)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Is Special?

Anonymous commented re. the “Singleton” episode of The McVie Show: “Although I’m ok being alone, living alone, and even dying alone, I must admit I’d prefer to do it with someone special (apart from family and friends).”

Several years ago I would have agreed wholly to the previous statement. If one had a choice one would prefer having someone special than just being alone. But the more I analyze the statement the more I question certain assumptions intrinsic in it.

The statement indicates that living with family and friends is not enough; one prefers “someone special” in their lives. It would seem, then, that there are values assigned to certain relationships, that relationships have a hierarchy. And the hierarchy is as follows: [1] “someone special” trumps everyone else; [2] “family” or “friends” follow, depending on one’s family background (admit it: people with dysfunctional families may more likely choose friends over family; people in happy homes may value their family over their friends).

But here’s the thing: why do we assign values to relationships? Is it because of the “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til Death do you part” vow? Or is it because people make relative distinctions between a lifelong partner, a close friend and a family member? Let’s tackle both statements one at a time.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til Death do you part. People seem to use this vow as their reason for regarding their lifelong partner as someone of extreme importance. But think about this: why can’t the same vow also apply to family members? “Oh but with family it’s duty, you don’t have a choice,” you might argue. But is a voluntary vow more important versus a duty you’re born into? Can one really compare the two and assign values to them? Can we look at things in another way? Perhaps comparing them is a useless exercise, a case of apples versus oranges. Both are equal and incomparable in importance.

People make relative distinctions between a lifelong partner, a close friend and a family member. Yes, “husband” is different from “friend” as well as “sibling”. Pushing it further, your relationships among your friends will have their individual differences: your friendship with John is different from your friendship with Paul, as your friendship with George, and so forth. Every individual is different, so every relationship is unique.

Remember the cliché parents say about their children? “All our children are special to us. We don’t have our favorites.” While we’re all human and we do tend to have our favorites even if we don’t want to, the spirit of the cliché is that ideally parents hold their children in equal and incomparable importance.

What is the conclusion then? Assigning hierarchies is detrimental to relationships. Going back to the statement “I’d prefer to do it with someone special (apart from family and friends),” one can ask, “Are family and friends not enough? Aren’t family and friends special too?”

* * * * *

While I was in Bohol I was reading this book, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. In that book it espouses living in the Now; the Past is past, and the Future has not happened yet (que sera, sera/whatever will be, will be). It tells people to accept and embrace the Now. Which means that if one does not have a special someone, one shouldn’t bemoan the lack but rather embrace what one has—the love of family and friends, relative good health, a steady job, etc.

It is not everyone’s destiny or fate to meet a special someone, a soul mate who connects with them on so many levels. In fact, I really believe that there are numerous people who actually pass through their mortal life not knowing the deep kind of love (imagine all the kids who died early on, either through war or famine or whatever). Tough shit, right? But all that is relative. I mean, for them it may not be “tough shit” simply because they have no way to compare and contrast their lives.

In the end what is most important is to truly live life. Life is what you make of it. Stop wining and pining for things that won’t or aren’t or haven’t yet. Stop obsessing over the not and live in the now.


Anonymous 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.


polite_megalomaniac said...

What is the conclusion then? Assigning hierarchies is detrimental to relationships.

Not true. The basis of a marriage vow is this: your partner is more important to you than everyone else. It's as simple as that. Family and friends can be enough, but one must be open to the possibility that there is more.

Now, why is that a good thing? Why is having someone who you treat as more important than everyone else and who treats you the same way a good thing? Because, at the end of the day, when all of your friends, even your family, leaves you, he/she will still be there, not because of the fact that you were born with similar genes, or that you like going out together and having fun, but because you both made a contract. A vow. You both said in a ceremony created for just that fact that you will love each other, and only each other, for the rest of your lives. You can live life alone, true, but living it with someone who would walk with you because he/she vowed to do so is better.

I'm not saying it's necessary to find a lifelong partner to live a full life. And yes, just because you thought you found the One doesn't mean you actually had found the One. But I am saying though that to find that one person who for you is the most important person in your life is actually a good thing.

polite meagalomaniac

Anonymous said...

Very insightful comment, as always.

However, I have discovered that the dynamics of a romantic relationship is quite different from that of the relationships we have with family or friends.

For me it is not a question of hierarchy. That seems too general a statement. How can you compare your love for your parents as against your love for a husband, wife, or lover?

You are right. It IS a question of choice, and an understanding of what one wants to experience in life. I have experienced the very special love of family and friends. In a certain context, this is certainly more than enough. I am happy and grateful for continuing to experience this kind of love from the people around me.

However, as you already know, having someone special - be it friends, family, or a lover - is not a requirement to live life on Earth. But getting in a relationship with "someone special" for me means that a person is now choosing to live life differently, and experience life differently too.

I guess the pursuit of everyone is to live a happy and successful life. But a lot of people forget that life is an experience too, and therefore an opportunity to feel more and be more.

Given how different a "romantic" relationship is from our other relationships, an opportunity to experience more is manifested.

That's the reason why some people (even me for a time) convince themselves that being alone is ok. Of course it is. But sometimes, though, they turn a blind eye to the fact that they are just afraid to be in a relationship. It is easier to say that family and friends are enough. Of course they are enough. But the heart doesn't lie. If there is a longing for someone special, then there is a longing for someone special. Period. And this longing cannot be easily justified by saying that family and friends are enough.