In the past months, more than in all the years of my life, I have come to appreciate the saying that a man’s life is the sum total of the choices he makes. What I wish though, is that another saying could formula the making of decisions and their resultant life-types. These days the dice is not between the bad and the good choices, that’s a quite easy call to make. Instead, it is between choices that have differing degrees and qualities of rightness. How do we scale the rightness of options? By what standards can we determine which qualities are weightier than which? Which qualities, and to which degrees, ascertain which kinds of life?
Stolen from the throes of what should have been a sweet dream if it wasn’t haunted by nightmares of wrong choices, I stare at the seconds hand on my wristwatch. I listen to my breathing even out, finger my hands through my hair, and stare at the white ceiling, scenes from the dream just abandoned playing before my eyes. I don’t know how long I stay that way, trying to calm my emotions, trying to sift through my thoughts, but eventually I tire of running in mental circles. Defeated, I get out of bed and reach for my laptop, admitting to myself that I have seen the last of sleep for the night. My eyes ache, but the heart supplying blood round my body is thumping a little too hard to allow my mind a slide into lassitude and dreams of any sort. Sighing, I input my laptop’s password, trying and failing time and again to shut the doors on my raging emotions and thoughts. Fingers on my keyboard now, I’m throwing the choices beyond me to you, wanting you to help me sort through this. Please say you can. I really hope you can.
All living creatures beget their kind by biological processes: a natural propagation of species commanded by the most basic instinct of animals- to survive. Human societies have evolved same instinct to be bound in legal stipulations, social processes, and cultural norms… a smoke screen of choices and compulsion, headaches and bliss, patriarchy and lust, deception and love, illusion and trust. Society, law, and religion label it marriage, and lived realities explicate it as a continuum between hell and heaven- definitions of which are not universal. And there, we are back to choices. Each person’s definitions are byproducts of the rationalizations and choices that sanctioned their marriage(s). Hence my preoccupation with choices; even in my subconscious. If we analogize heaven with sweet dreams and hell with nightmares, which qualities ensure a marriage that is more heaven than hell? And… what kind, or degree, of heaven?
I once heard this line in a movie and it has become the line by which I try to solve a lot of problems, so perhaps I should try it again. It says: “to solve the problem, start from the basics”. We ought to agree that a basic in this maze is the question: “are there certain universal qualities that make for certain kinds of marital results”? There are a couple of sayings, variant wisdom, and clichés that seem to proffer answers to this question: one recommends that in a couple one must be a goat and the other a sheep, another says opposites attract- seemingly contradicting the ones which preaches the necessity of “things in common”, yet another says there can’t be two masters of one ship, and the Bible pitches in and says the woman should be submissive while the man should be loving. For characters outside the ‘union’, conventional advice state meekness of character, religiousness, fidelity; in fact, the model of virtues for women. Men are officially less bound to virtue. It would seem the laws of economics, of demand and supply, rule this basic human affair too! It is preached that however bad a man is there is sure to be a woman either desperate or willing enough to pair with him. Or perhaps it is merely that conventional wisdom deems the breeding of children to be less male-concerned and therefore that children are more likely to be corrupted by the immoral mother than by the immoral father.
Personal compatibility is… what exactly? The merger of persons as they are or as they hope to be? Because one of the most frequent reasons for divources these days is “we grew apart”. So, how can one tell if qualities of the beloved would one day before till-death-do-us-part become boring? Or if things that were not so important before the walk down the altar would become rings upon which the two would throw punches- least of which would be physical?
The streets, those places alive with glassy-eyed reminiscening people, tell of lonely beds and aching desires which either inflamed adultery or passioned hate. The streets say that sex and passion keep many marriages together… those same streets tell that few know how to go about it. Bound in conventions of modesty, bodily shame, sinified desires, archaic doctrines of sexual gratification and silence; the streets tell of cold beds, hungry glances, desperate eyes, parched lips, routine sex… The tales explicate open legs and hungry pussies, spewing sperms and aching loins. The tales end with “… I wanted more” or “it wasn’t enough”.
Unfortunately, these are just the tip of the beseiged iceberg of sour tales of ring-deserted fingers. So I’m wondering: is it too much to let every one decide when they have at least some part of this puzzle figured out before thrusting them into marital convenants? Would it be so bad if it was up to each person to decide when to “settle down”… or if at all to “commit”? And since I’m asking for a lot anyway, perhaps I can add that marriage not be defined as a mark of achievement or phase of life, but as a mode of existence? Or does someone out there have the formula for more-heaven-than-hell?