On desire and being single again
If you’ve read all of my blog (which of course, all good blog visitors should ha! Especially one as a-prolific as this one!!) you’ll know that just over a year ago I shuffled off this marital coil! (I feel I must attribute to Mr Shakespeare here, but you’ll note it is not a verbatim quote!!) Thus it should not be surprising to learn that I’ve recently been making tentative forays into the ‘dating’ scene, one year seeming a respectable mourning period; sadly my first foray has ended in disaster. OK, that’s probably overstating it a little (particularly in a world where the term ‘disaster’ has a far weightier meaning, aroha mai!), but lets just say that the early euphoria of discovering great-kissing post marriage, and remembering how exciting new beginnings are, was quickly replaced by the other side of that always two-sided coin – the heartbreak and confusion of things gone awry!! Indeed that exhilarating roller coaster ride does have a downward slope and a fairly steep one!! Except that rather than being allowed to wallow in my rediscovered heartbreak, I’m subject to the wisdom of the masses. A hideous prospect, particularly at a time when the new-age-platitude reigns supreme. Apparently “it was a learning experience”, “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”, and then the real clanger – always spoken in the wake of things-not-working-out-the-way-you-wanted; “it just wasn’t meant to be“. (Please tell me that someone other than me feels the urge to mime the fingers down the throat gesture at that one, which says far more in response than mere words ever could!). Of course its not that such sentiments are wrong per se – its just that they’re really not helpful, communicating as they do the ‘big picture’ perspective when all one wishes to do is YES sweat the little stuff (or picture!) and bemoan the goddamn unfairness of it all! Yes indeed I did learn a great deal – rediscovered aspects of myself that had long been dormant yadda yadda; and there are two potential fish swimming round my pond as I write (as for the not meant to be schtick, I’m not quite ready yet to take on that one)! The problem is, keen and lovely as those fishies are, I’m still left hankering after the one-that-got-away! Pathetic really, given the sudden and final ending things came too, I wonder have I really progressed in the ‘dating’ sense from the teenage years at which I left that scene?!
In the wake of this recent turmoil I’ve had cause to mull over the question of desire. I remember being struck several years ago by a scene in the movie The Life of David Gale that pondered this very issue and, word-freak that I am, have dutifully tracked the lines down:
“Fantasies have to be unrealistic because the moment, the second that you get what you seek, you don’t, you can’t want it anymore. In order to continue to exist, desire must have its objects perpetually absent. Its not the It that you want, it’s the fantasy of It. So desire supports crazy fantasies. This is what Pascal means when he says that we are only truly happy, when daydreaming about future happiness. Or why we say the hunt is sweeter than the kill. Or be careful what you wish for. Not because you’ll get it … because you’re doomed not to want it once you do”
As I’ve said I was struck by those words at the time, but nothing lends credence to such philosophizing than the lived experience of the thing, and from a personal perspective I can confirm that for this wahine at least – there is some truth in it! The ‘object’ of my desire, gone as he now is, was not someone I had the opportunity to get to know well – at least not in the baring-your-soul sense, and hence I entertain no fantasy that he was/is the love of my life (and no, I’m not even sure I believe in such things). Nor was he some super-catch that engendered ticks for every item on the list of ‘everything you would want in a man’ (or, not to be hetero-centric – partner; I don’t actually have a list like that, but perhaps I should work on one!). But following a fast and heady romance, the point is, he’s gone, and that fact alone seems to make him all the more desirable!! Whereas any and all other potentials, particularly those that show desire of their own, are less appealing for their eagerness. And I’m relieved to know I’m not alone in this conundrum, it seems that when I can push past peoples’ need to espouse the aforementioned ‘wisdom’ and actually have them talk about their experiences, the ‘I want you if you don’t want me; and don’t want you if you do’ routine is not an uncommon one. And may even be more potent for second-time-rounders like me. Its certainly not a rational position to have which is great, cos hey you gotta love anything that undermines the whole englightenment-rational-selfcontained-individual nonsense; but seems to come from a far more emotional (and therefore irrational as emotions and supposedly women are wont to be 😉 ) realm. I can only hope, that like all things, this too shall pass, and take heart in the ending of the above lecture espoused by David Gale (actor Kevin Spacey), even if – like the words of the big-picture holders, it takes a little longer to sink in …
“So the lesson of Lacan is living by your wants will never make you happy. What it means to be fully human is to strive to live by ideas and ideals. And not to measure your life by what you’ve attained in terms of your desires, but those small moments of integrity, compassion, rationality, even self-sacrifice. Because in the end, the only way that we can measure the significance of our own lives, is by valuing the lives of others”
Aroha mai – apologies; Wahine – woman
Please note, as with any translation, the English equivalent does not necessarily capture the meaning of the words in their entirety