Love – Life – Marriage – Passion

Love is not an adventure – but a journey.
Passion is not a function – but a person.
Marriage is not a commitment as in: prison – it’s a decision.
Romance is not a fleeting idea from fairy stories – but heart and mind of a person.
Life is not a sandbox and games – but responsible behaviour – and a ‘Yes’.

Numbers, Business – Everywhere: Love?

People for quite some time, even more so since WW II and the global ‘advent’ of an apparently global culture – have embraced the idea that business is good. More business is better. Which basically means: the higher the numbers, the better.

This leads to the rather sad realization that many people also treat love that way: they may not know better, but they act as if numbers are at the bottom of it. Love the most beautiful, the richest, the most handsome, the loudest, funniest or something else …est.

And the surface too often is taken for the real stuff: whatever someone says is taken at its face value, it seems as long as the image is ‘fitting’ the mainstream, the fashion, the – numbers, all’s well.

Particularly irritating at times is the behaviour of grown-ups, who seem to have no sense of their individual value, who think that having fun can have one connotation only – and that it is also fine to listen to what the majority apparently has to ‘say’ about these matters.

Who are constantly testing their market value by flirtatious behaviour or coy looks and moves – and seem to overlook completely, that they are transformed into a product, on ‘the market’… Almost seize to be human, and loose all individual character in the process, because they try so hard to be ‘part of the crowd’, the majority. Fulfil general ideas, instead of being a person.

So, what people believe, seems to amount to this:

  • The majority, it is taken for granted, is always right.
  • Fashion or what people take for it, the mainstream, is the best thing to have – or be. Or at least be part of.
  • The majority states that having fun means, more of everything is better – even in love. Or what they take for it.
  • If one conquers ever so many more and new people every other day, not only will certain others look up to them – it will make life so much more interesting and – fun…

All these assumptions are based on  the idea of numbers: and since human beings are not ‘working’ by numbers alone or even mainly – these ideas will never result in what many people are looking for.
Instead, the boredom and the uneasiness continue – and become more. More people, more exciting moments become necessary to fill the void, scare away fear or anger –  and less and less insights into their own soul, true needs or sorrows are possible.

What will be impossible to find, are fulfilment and the inner calm of ‘having arrived’.  The ultimate contentment.
These things can be found only inside, not out.

One of Those Questions – Love in Triples?

It seems that in long-term relationships for all kinds of reasons people can forget about passion and how it might work…
Sometimes it’s not so much the ‘forgetfulness’, but reasons outside of their strictly personal ideas have made them come together, especially: marry.

For thousands of years mankind has been wondering and does every day, if passion must not fade, naturally, after some time.
I am not sure if I am the right person to answer this definitively, but in my opinion: ‘no’.
I am a romantic and I believe that with patience and knowledge and the right setting more things are possible, than “are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio”, as Shakespeare has Hamlet say in the famous play.

A lot of people seem to feel that the solution lies in the triple: have the long-term partner to share life with – and the second ‘love’ to share passion with. Little vignettes may swim to imagination’s surface, painting the life that way in rosy, passionate and separate colours…
Interestingly, almost no one takes the time to think this through… Man (and woman) is not a machine, a function, but always a unique being, a whole of mind, soul and body.

So, shortly put: triples do not work in love.

Be that as it may, this little clip from one of my favourite movies gives a nice answer to that question, that is not definitive, on the surface – but makes you wonder in a good way…

The Beauty and the Beast – or: The Idea of Loveliness and the Adored Woman Divine

In former times the idea existed of what an adorable woman should be like, I have to some extent already mentioned this before: she was to be slender, graceful, mild and smiling. Aloof from the ‘pit of worries and ugliness’ of this world, basically angelic.

The concept of adoration carries with it the idea of the pedestal, the aloofness, even distance and other-worldliness that is sung to in many songs and poems of the time when the idea of ‘courtly love’, the ‘Minnesang’ or ‘Minnedienst’ (German) was in full swing. Knights were sworn to such a service to a lady, they often chose one themselves that was a picture of virtue and aloofness. More rituals are associated with this service: the glove of the adored woman the knight was to carry around always, or a lock or a special piece of cloth, often embroidered by herself as a sign that all his deeds were dedicated to her, in war, in life and in death.

This romantic love created a mist, a blur of what we today still find in everyday infatuation. It calls an emotion ‘love’ that is based on a fairy story, an illusion about the perfection of a human being. Where the outer appearance is at least as important as the alleged virtues.

Actually, the image gets even more blurry and confusing by the fact that the ‘inner and outer beauty’ are exchanged for each other. The looks are taken for the person. Thus the emotion called ‘love’ based on this idea rather than person, is a picture – painted perhaps with great artistry – but still only containing part of the truth.

Truth: the concept of truth to me also is contained in these images, but it is more. It is what you find when you look closely, without prejudice. When you are not afraid of some time sordidness or disillusion and still are able to see the whole picture.
In Persian there is a saying: “the truth is bitter”. And that can be true too.
Ayurveda just equals truth with life.

I have found in the course of my life that truth, reality, as difficult to bear sometimes as it is, in cases of cruelty and torture in war or politics or crime – makes for ultimately a safer kind of life. And a more interesting and diverse one. Because our ideas and our perception are based on facts, not surmises, therefore sound. Because all the little details we can know about friends or family – or the loved one – will make us appreciate them for what they are: human beings.

The concept of knowledge, recognition, is to be found here too: in an almost biblical sense, to ‘recognize’, to really know and still like and love. Therefore I rather won’t have anyone adore me for what I look like. ‘Adore’ me, at all. Because for me that’s not real, ultimately doomed, because it will end the day the veil is lifted, the illusion destroyed.

So I for one, would rather not be adored by but well known to a man of my heart.

Would You Be a Lady? – Corsets, Crossed Legs, Cinderella, and the Bad Back

For centuries in many parts of Europe a very distinct idea of the true lady existed: she was never loud, never obtrusive, never swore, did not know the words to describe the bodily functions and if even a hint of the juicier sides of life was made in a conversation she would faint.

This changed in the course of centuries since the advent of the civil society, when first the equality of men was declared and later on the freedom of men, women and even slaves was proclaimed. Step by step the enlightenment and women’s lib movement acquired a foothold in thoughts, ideas and finally in law: even in the late 18th century, when the French revolution started a whole volley of changes, equal rights for all men and freedom for serfs, women were not even considered, much less covered by such laws.
As had been custom since ancient Greece and Rome, the law considered ‘man’ to be free and have the right to vote. ‘Man’ did not mean ‘human being’, but literally the male grown-up of the society. The eldest sons not even of age were often put to ‘look after’ the woman and younger children of the house, when the father (‘pater familias’) was away.

Women were considered to be weak, a lady was something like a hothouse plant, to be kept under wraps, to be protected and hatched and not to be spoken roughly to. On the other hand she also was considered to be less smart than a man, practically dumb, less able to conduct business or study the serious subjects, such as high literature, medicine or law.

During the nineteenth century it became even more pointed when a ‘writing woman’ was likened to a ‘monster’, in so many words, in articles of special ladies’ magazines, books for housekeeping and instructions on how to properly behave as a lady.

Into the 1950s, the seminars and classes for young women were well known in Germany, to instruct the bride-to-be in how to take care of the man, cook, clean the house and dress, the so-called ‘Bräuteschule’. Down to the crossing of legs, the conversation considered suitable and the poise of the head, the shoulders, how to hold cup and saucer, knife and fork. The most cruel expression of this idea can be found in the German version of the fairy story of ‘Cinderella’: two of the daughters are encouraged to cut off their heel or toe to fit her feet into the shoes for the dance – to ultimately ‘catch’ the prince.

All this made for another kind of corset: the strict rules thus creating a restricted range of body movements caused numerous problems for health and well-being. Among them reduced blood circulation especially in neck and shoulders, legs and lower back.

Today we are lucky that in some parts of the world this has been realized and also leads to a potentially more relaxed expression of emotions and thoughts.
I still think an evening dress worn to a ball and the grace of a dancing woman is fine to look at, and feel – but personally I enjoy it so much more, when dress and shoes ‘fit me’ – not vice versa.

Human Rights, Extremists and Rudyard Kipling – Can the ‘Twain’ Ever Meet?

Rudyard Kipling in his poem ‘The Ballad of East and West’ put it in his famous phrase: ‘East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.’
His idea was that the differences were too great to ever be fully reconcilable. The term reconcilable in turn stems from ‘reconciliation’, something two or more parties at war would do…

These modern times see the discussion going on just as forcefully, opinionated and to some extent just as wrongly prejudiced as Kipling was. He also was the poet laureate who coined the phrase of the ‘white man’s burden’. It’s another way of saying that ‘the West’ actually has an obligation and a duty to go elsewhere into the world and teach ‘them’ there what life should be like and how to think and feel.

The prejudice this idea is based on of course means: here (in Europe, the West, US) ‘we’ know all about it, are always right and could not accept another point of view because the truth is to be found here.

The ‘devil’ in such ideas lies in two things:

  • That there exists one real truth only.
  • That there are whole countries or regions filled with tribes or people who have to be taught what is right. In former times: to be religiously converted in a ‘mission’.

This is actually the same principle ‘the other side’ employs when influencing simpler minds into attacking and killing people, or go to war.
The propaganda for centuries has been the same:
Find an image in the ‘other’ that is harmful, problematic or even dangerous, paste it up, make it look shiny and ‘red’, present ‘the enemy’ in the most gruesome colours and then take up the weapons and march.

A very simple and core argument today is in judging Islamic terrorists by the fact that allegedly ‘they’ have the fierceness written into their religion, namely the Koran contains suras that explicitly ask its followers to go to war or kill. Although this is true – here comes the interesting and even more simple fact:
Terrorism sanctioned by the government is called just – war.

More importantly, if we take the human rights act and lay it beside the allegedly worthy, because peaceful bible, that is taken as proof that the West is worthier still, we may be astonished: the bible has many parts in it that are just as fierce, ‘bloody’ and dangerous to simple minds than any possible counterpart in the Koran. I just like to bring up the ‘eye for an eye’ phrase as an example.

If you want to understand and truthfully judge, how people think and live in a majority of a culture, you do not just take up their religious book and make an equation.

You start to understand this:

  • Living, breathing and caring people are all around the world. They very often have very similar dreams about a peaceful life that contain love and reasonable wealth.
  • The propaganda is the same – in basic fact – around the world, in words as well as in deeds. Using simple concepts and even simpler wording to ‘drive people crazy’ – and into torture or killing.
  • Putting your own view of the world ‘up there’ as the only truth that has value and should be adhered to, namely be self-righteous, is the starting point of any narrow-mindedness and ultimately may lead to war just as easily.

If we want to really change the world, let’s start at our own door: open it to let different point-of-views in and thus different kinds of people from around the globe and try and understand, that many things can be differentiated and sometimes difficult – but they are certain to be exciting and fruitful, not to say beneficial too. Because variety is what makes life colourful!

The Darker Side of Love – Men, Women, Appreciation and Violence

Sex can be life-affirming I posted recently, and I still think it’s true. Yet, there’s a darker side to sex, the bodily love, that has been gauged in recent months, especially in the US. Although a lot needs to be said about those that manipulate and are out for money from celebrities, yet the fact remains that violence, especially sexual violence in patriarchal societies, has been too often and too long trivialised. In some ways we are lucky in this day and age that because of the feminist movement especially in the course of the past two centuries a new awareness and a better realization of the problem has been created.
Judges and juries these days are less likely to play down the grave actions of abuse or even rape that have and are being committed every day.

Mentally Sick

The most common reasons in many cases also have been determined. In cases of downright mentally sick or disturbed offenders they have been shut away and some effort is made to cure them.
But there’s the grey area of those that seem neither sick nor disturbed nor raised in the wrong surroundings or state of mind.
Still, the more prominent as well as ‘lesser cases’ – as regards media attention – are known to exist: respectable men, professional, successful, family all complete, are being found out after years to have been involved in numerous cases of shady or downright criminal offenses against women.

Why, one wonders over and over again, why does this happen?

The Sane Male and Root Causes

To my mind several reasons are at the root of this phenomenon and this is even not the first time they are being identified:

  • In patriarchal society the man is supposed to take the ‘reigning position’. Always alert, always superior, always there to safe the weaker members of society, women, children and the elderly, as it were.
  • Additionally, more commonly realized and also more often publicly stated from inside the feminist movement, the sexual role a man has to play in theory in patriarchal societies is that of the conqueror: representing the strong and almost animal-like quality of round-the-clock seducer image.
  • A very basic principle of human needs is that of appreciation: at the root of many of man’s initiatives, actions, drive or motivations is the need to be appreciated, or noticed. Work as well as private life are determined to a great extent by this need. With it comes the feeling of being strong, sufficient and in the right place among one’s fellow beings.

Appreciation – The Basic Human Need

To me this need for appreciation, which has more often gone too unnoticed, is the root to more problems than just the subject of this post. But appreciation as a man, to repeat,  in patriarchal societies most often, depends on the image being fulfilled: the seducer and superior being, the reigning head of the herd, the lion.
After the principle of the successful and rich existence has been realized, there remains the seducer: ‘women swoon’ nicely describes the expectation connected with this image.
And not only does the respective ‘male’ feel strong and confident because he ‘did his duty’, as it were. In addition a great number of surrounding fellows or pals will admire him for it, even if envious at the same time. Because he ‘got it’, rather ‘them’. Them, meaning women.

What often goes unnoticed also, are two other basic human phenomena, which make understanding part of these occurrences easier: men as well as women after reaching adulthood will never feel the same as in childhood again. The constant feeling of being perhaps not ‘up to par’ as regards expectations of the society around one’s self is ever present.
What fewer humans realize though, yet would be so important for more of them to lead more productive and satisfying lives:
It is human to feel like that. And to try and use different ways and means to overcome this by quenching the emotion is common – but not helpful.

The Seducing Game

One of the methods very commonly used by men to feel ‘right’, secure, ‘up to par’ is fulfilling this role of seducer, the veritable Casanova: it seems the more insecure someone feels, the higher the rate of women he needs to fill the basic void.

Inexperienced, frightened or just ambitious women especially at a younger age can easily fall victim to this kind of often schematised seducing game.
Because, the modern Casanova so often isn’t a bad guy on the surface, or even at lots of his heart. He’s got charming manners, especially towards women. He’s the perfect pal for all around. He can create the atmosphere and impression that he appreciates each woman in her own and very special right, even treats her as if she was the revelation of his life and the one goal he had been aiming at. He’s not even ruthless or inconsiderate in everyday life. That makes him so difficult to spot, especially with less experience in these matters or people in general.

Go Public

A very important point to be made in this context: making things public can be crucial. Too often women are even blamed for ‘falling for the guy’. And too often they blame themselves, which is the worst side to all of this. The ideas range over ‘they should have known better, be more prudent, be more aware’, and so on. That is the ‘devil’ of it, of the game and the underlying human condition: the need for feeling close, the need for passion – and appreciation. So men and women alike should stop blaming the victims, in whatever shape or form the deed is done.

But to stop the game and its tools it doesn’t suffice just to recognize and avoid the wielders. An effective way to prevent the worst things in life, such as other kinds of crime, is to educate, to make aware and – raise our children differently. Which means that women as well as men learn to understand, what life is really all about. How passion can be integrated into a loving and caring relationship on an equal footing, where no man and no woman is to be expected to be ‘super’ in any way – especially seducing.

Passion, Love and the Lush Side of Life

There’s a lot of literature and acquired knowledge among all of mankind about love and its multiple manifestations. Art and crafts as well as the theatre and also the movie business, newspapers, marketing, sales, you name it, they all depend on it. How? Well, one of its aspects is sex, as we call it in modern times. And sex sells. Also, and again: Why?

What is so powerful that everyone is always talking about it with relish, craving it – and more often than not – not ‘gett’n any’, as the streets (the popular slang) have it.

Someone on a TV-show called it by a simple formula: ‘sex is life-affirming’. There’s a lot of truth in that. Many people, especially in modern times and men even more often than women suffer from what Erich Kästner had called ‘lack of emotion’. Business is everywhere – and in business any passionate emotion can be bad for it, because a buyer might conclude there’s not enough confidence in the product, so perhaps better not buy.

So since passion is reduced to rare occasions in life, so since we all grow up, especially in Western civilisation, that being calm, cool and unaffected is the state of mind to go for,  passion ‘goes out the door’.

Of course, there’s the tradition also, that stems from times when being an ‘unwed mother’ was damning to a woman’s reputation, condemning her to a life in poverty, even on the streets. When  religion was known to affirm that bodily love, which I find a much better term for it, was a sin. Freud freed us of that. In the West. Since the 19th century, with the advent of emancipation of women and finally the arrival of the birth control pill it seems today we should be at a point where it’s clear, easy and as natural as it should be. Or not?

Still people wonder, what it is that can make it so hurtful (as the song has it, ‘love hurts’). Especially since the modern ‘freedom’ of ‘sex of when, where and as you like it’ has created a heated atmosphere that seems to blur the essentials.

There are two of them at least: there’s lust and there’s love. And yet – to try and completely separate them from each other is practically impossible. Alexander Lowen created a whole science around the comparatively new Western realization that body and mind are indeed no two separate entities, but rather closely related, intertwined as it were. Which is to say that what happens in our brains, the mind, is crucial for love or lust. That whatever happens in our for our bodies, is reflected in or even caused by stimulation of some region of the brain. That even the most simple words can create a whole volley of bodily reactions, remembering an experience, a taste, a fragrance, recalling images – and suddenly the pulse starts to race. What happens in love, even if it is the bodily love that is not based on deeper emotions, the ‘being in love’? The heart beats faster, cheeks flush, the temperature rises, the blood rushes through the veins, we may become almost breathless – and desire, if we are lucky, can be overwhelming. But it is to this day underestimated, especially among and for men, how deeply it can touch us, and soon. If we live as if there was no emotion, no ‘heart’ (and I mean not the organ here, in the strict sense), an emptiness, even aversion of human beings, life in general can follow. And many of those who set out to ‘break all women’s hearts at a glance’ wake up one day to find that something went missing on the way. The most wonderful literature has been created around this, refer to Tolstoi’s ‘Resurrection’ (with a religious motif at the centre), Pushkin’s ‘Eugen Onegin’, a lot of Shakespeare’s tragedies as well as his comedies, of course, W. Somerset Maugham’s ‘Of Human Bondage’, to name only a few distinct and special instances. And movies, of course: there’s no end to the stories, a ‘love interest’ is known in Hollywood to spice up the even most atrocious action picture. Very special I consider to be ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’, ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘A Stranger Among Us’, ‘Age of Innocence’, on a lighter note ‘Love Actually’, or more recent ‘Hope Springs’. Also to name only a very few. And to be continued almost ad infinitum.

Passion and love have been likened to fire in most languages spoken around the globe – and for good reason. Fire warms us, it lets us cook meals, it emanates a light that’s warm and comforting and even led the way, when there was no electricity used. Without its energy in some regions of the world man would die. On the other hand, we all know how dramatically deadly it can become at a moment’s notice: a spark flown into the wrong direction, a fire caused in hot and dry season in the woods, blazes in buildings, streets or whole cities destroying and killing everything in their way.

Love can be the same: warm, wonderfully passionate and fulfilling, hot and quick, or slow and smooth. It can quicken the pulse to see the loved one, makes everything shine with a new light, and happiness fills mind and body, every fibre. On the other hand rejection, in a passionate love, separation, loss – can be deadly literally – or emotionally. There’s actually a condition in medicine associated with this now, the ‘broken heart syndrome’ recognized as a manifestation of bodily symptoms.

Remember: there’s no body without mind – because without words and imagination that kindle the spark, there will be dust and ashes, only.

So first and last, do with passion and love, your heart and your body, what you do with fire, too: ‘handle with care’.