Monday, September 10, 2007

Evolutionarily speaking


How do we evolve? Not as a species ... but as individuals? ... and how do we measure the extent to which we have evolved? If, in fact, we have. Or ever do. The habits of our lives are fascinating paradigms - within and without which, we know and sometimes observe ourselves. Living. Or not living. Existing. Or subsisting.

I am preparing myself for a major change in the habit of my life. My collision with the concept of mortality was extremely interesting. Punishing, in fact. I bought myself a little spiral notepad to write down all the aspects of my life that I want to examine in more detail ... and possibly change. Or not. The important thing is that I am going to rigorously interrogate every aspect of my life and its value (or lack of value) to me.

The first topic, interestingly enough, is the lack of a relationship in my life. Love. Skin-tingling intimacy ... and a perpetual state of arousal. Days in bed fucking. Kissing. Touching. Wanting for nothing ... except maybe the possibility to disappear further into each other than is biologically possible.

I started with this topic because it is the one by which most people judge me most harshly. Apparently, because I am a single man, I am "lonely" ... "sad and lonely" ... "bitter" ... "fat, sad, lonely and bitter" ... "lacking in self-esteem" ... chronically. But other people's judgment of me is almost entirely lame conceit in the face of the extent to which I am capable of judging myself. And have been, mercilessly, for a number of years.

Now it is time to change a few things.

*****

I had a boyfriend once. He lived in Elsternwick and I lived in Balaclava. We met at a gay men's sauna. We fucked all night. And exchanged telephone numbers. I remember the beginning of this relationship as though it were yesterday. He, or I, would call ... and then we would both leave our homes at the same time and meet on Hotham Street. We would practically race the final few hundred metres of this hallowed turf towards each other. When I could be sure it was him walking toward me, my heart would skip a beat. A smile so wide and so wondrous would form of its own free will on my lips. In the distance, his body would change shape. As would mine. He would start running ... so would I. My visions of our embrace, our intimacy and our sex would force tempo changes in my pace and direction like nothing else ever could. Or ever has. I would find myself opening my arms to him ... collecting him, embracing him ... sweeping him and all his wonderful huggable, kissable, edible and almost impossibly desirable energy into my arms. We would overflow with joy ... and at the time, I was strong enough to experience it. Trust it ... and believe in the honesty and fairness of it. We exchanged the energy of love and we were both much stronger for it. This feeling, more than anything, is the one I miss more than any other.

Of course we moved in together. Of course it was lovely ... as you would expect having as much of everything good about someone and something is lovely. Right? Complete. Yes?

Over the years we share a beautiful apartment on Brighton Road, go on holidays together and bury his older brother. We would also acknowledge the anniversary of the death of his younger brother who had died before I had come onto the scene. He would mourn and I would hold him. He would lash out at the empty space around him and I would manage to fill some of it ... when appropriate, and nurse him into a sobbing almost-stillness. And eventually peace and silence ... where the mutual lack of understanding about the depth and extent of his pain and my share of it succumbed to something of another world - altogether.

*****

I have always believed that relationships end the way they begin ... in fact, I guarantee it. The one thing I have observed about the end of relationships is that where they begin (in my case, a gay men's sauna) is where they will end. And one thing is certain ... they will end. I lost my boyfriend in the mist ... somewhere near, I have always imagined, where I had found him. One night, some weeks after our hideously acrimonious separation, he fronted up to a local pub where my friends and I were drinking and dancing. He professed undying love and remorse for his actions (fucking any of our mutual friends had been the final rule I had dared to make ... which he had, of course, broken). He was forcefully escorted out of the bar and on to the street (by a couple of my friends and the security staff) and warned to stay away from me. He did. And always has - ever since.

*****

Coming back to Melbourne has, in the way similar to that of a sudden breeze flipping the pages of your newspaper over as you read it, ensured that certain chapters of my development ... my evolution ... have been held up for cheery reminiscence. I have scooted past our old apartment building on a couple of occasions in taxis, cars and on trams. I, like I am sure most of us do, select the happy memories to consider first. Our balcony garden and our huge, real Christmas Tree. Our holidays to Broken Hill, Rutherglen and Millawa. The Alpaca Farm.

But ultimately it is the pain of betrayal and loss which slowly rises to the surface ... and it is my conscious and worthwhile choice to never offer so much of my self, my time, my energy, support and love to any one ever again. Except possibly myself. I know people who are bound in loveless knots masquerading as relationships. I see compromised potential and sense discomfort that makes my heart sad and my head spin with boredom generated by the relentless saga of their sadness and frustration. I see rules being made and broken ... and I see expectations fallen short of - well short of. I hear tension and sadness in their voices and their life rhythms are corrupted by futile attempts to accept what others of us refuse to even acknowledge - the consolation prize. I watch dark clouds, not of their making or intention, hover over too much laughter and delight. I watch them defending themselves from their fears of lonliness by barricading themselves behind a wall of toilet-paper feebleness - built of false hopes and unrealistic expectations. Lies, fantasies and delusions.

Aloneness ... and the incomparable joy of individual freedom is the thing I value more than anything in the world. I always have. And I always will. I have known love ... and it was life-changing. So is compromise, but for entirely different reasons. I, for one, would prefer to live without one than to have to suffer the other.

There is, after all, a world of difference between being lonely and being alone.

Image The evolution of man

6 comments:

nick said...

That was beautiful... your way with words is just astonishingly beautiful

Geoffrey said...

Thank you for saying so Nick.

Alison Croggon said...

A rather bleak view, all the same! I would never dream of condemning anyone for valuing their solitude (something I value intensely myself). Nor do I think of coupledom - the dissolving of two people into one unit - at all desirable. But, as Rilke says, love is when two people protect each other's solitude.

Barrett said...

But, as Rilke says, love is when two people protect each other's solitude.

In which case, I have loved, but not been loved. :)

It's such an important distinction: loneliness and aloneness. Aloneness is quiet and lyrical.

Geoffrey said...

"Bleak" is an interesting observation Alison. I guess in some ways that my view of love in relationships is somewhat bleak ... like looking at the TV Guide and, even though I don't have to argue with someone about what to watch, I choose not to watch anything anyway. I reject duality in every way, but fancy exploring the concept of collaboration one day. As the Japanese believe, someone somewhere on the planet has the other half of your luck and good fortune that you yourself don't have.

Maybe it's the concept of permanence I reject more than anything?

Geoffrey said...

Thanks for your comment Barrett. Aloneness can also be inspiring and rowdy, clarifying and confronting. We can only ever truly rely on ourselves ... and it's nice to know who I am and play around with who I might become (or not).