Sex. Even the word disturbs you slightly. You don’t know why, you can rationalise backwards, devise neat little psychological theories about your childhood. But there is something that cuts through those stories and tells another.
Because you are as prudish about God as you are about sex. You feel as uncomfortable attempting to pray as you do thinking about uniting with your lover. Prudishness is the same, one and other. It is the same as Adam and Eve in the garden, you realise you are naked.
Standing vulnerable before God, standing vulnerable before your lover – how different are they really? But how much more vulnerable do you find yourself before God than before your beloved? How much more hushed the tones as you strain to speak.
Oh for a crowd to hide in, or to run like a child behind the legs of your mother, holding tightly to her hand and peeking through the gaps of her fingers, as if no-one could see you there.
Even for all that, you don’t really want to be alone… why else would you be peeking?
When the family breaks up, the child is alone. He has a mother and he has a father, but his love for his mother induces guilt for the love of his father, and the love for his father bristles painfully due to the protective feelings he has toward his mother. So he is alone. There is only jarring disunity – and the self.
“Why can we not all be one again?” he thinks, “why can we not eat together, sing together, love together – as once we did?”
Must everything fall apart?
Maybe later he tries to resolve the wound by severance altogether. He rejects half of himself and clings to one story about his past. “I never had a father” he says. But the pain is obvious. The wound remains. Every day is a confrontation with that which has been severed. There is no completion without the whole, without mending the broken bond, the self made from two. The more anger at the wound, the deeper perhaps the severance, the more insistent that there must be one to blame, to hate, to expel from the self – to be whole again, but lesser.
Your mother and father lurk within you, and no amount of hate can purge them. There is only one way to heal the wound, to forgive together, love together, eat together once more.
And some wounds will never be healed… only pray and dare to hope that this one is healed, because some wounds, though longstanding and septic, still are.
You love meat and you do not flinch when your vegetarian friend refers to it as “bits of dead animal”. Something visceral stirs in you when you look at a blood soaked cut of meat, something dark is spoken to by the redness of it.
You have to eat, and even vegetarians must kill to live, not only plants but those creatures that would interfere with the production of their food, insects, small mammals and so on – and more broadly, biodiversity and ecology itself is inevitably disrupted. The genocide of species done to serve the hunger of man.
You wonder why you deserve to live and the things on your plate deserve to die. There are many ways to approach the fact that death is necessary for life and that in every meal you make an active choice to shape the universe to serve your life at the expense of the lives of others. Some will look upon it proudly, proclaim themselves “top of the food chain” and justify the state of affairs by might alone. Oddly some of these same people find a similar logic expressed within or toward the human species abhorrent.
Others recoil from it, try and minimise their impact. But such a course is to no avail. Even were it possible to reduce the impact to an infinitesimal quantity, the philosophical qualitative problem remains.
Your preference is a measure of gratitude, and awe. You are a fragile living being, each day it is not your right to survive. Your daily bread is neither earned nor deserved, every living thing wishes to survive and struggles with utmost labour to that end. You must face the dead with the respect that they deserve, their sacrifice, though generally unwilling, must be given its due lest the universe itself be affronted by your sense of entitlement.
You struggle against death, for that is your lot among the living, but you have no rights in the face of death – and even you, lording it over the ham on your dinner plate, can become food.
Thank your food for it’s sacrifice, and thank the carrion for leaving off it’s feast for another day.
You are so protective of your real desires and your real feelings. When you were a child you endeavoured never to smile, you did not want anyone to know they had succeeded in making you happy – as if the act of modifying your mood was a supreme violation of your individual integrity.
Even now your most cherished hopes and dreams are painful to speak out loud. There is no particular shame in them, just as there is no shame in being happy. You simply find the notion of their being known, of the things you love and value the most being spoken, makes you feel extremely vulnerable.
In opposition to this you are completely at ease telling everyone your weaknesses, as though to make them common knowledge is to nullify their power and make them useless. Only that which you cherish, only your strengths are worth hiding, protecting.
But you cannot seek that which you love without revealing somehow your intentions. You try to “play it cool” but you know in the end you will lose, because you will never have the courage to show the soft tender underbelly of your desires, the things you want the most.
It would be sad if you desired something terrible. As it is your desires are totally innocuous, so it’s really quite pathetic.
You run circles around the truth with intellectual ambiguation. This is to be your lot until the day you die.
Feeling sick to your stomach, you run what you wanted to say, what you should have said, through your head. If only you had explained this or that? If only you had another chance to put forward your case, to put everything into it’s fullest context.
Sadness passes over you, then inside a small voice of hope is faced by an army of anger and doubt, “we will defend this kingdom against your falsehoods” cries doubt, “you would speak kindness about those who will destroy us?!” cries anger. The small voice looks up helplessly, ever trusting at you, begging you to grant her freedom, to give her the opportunity to sow joy, even if only briefly.
What good is hope, only to be crushed? Better to be vanquished here inside, than vanquished by foreign forces. Better that we smother the child than let her be captured and raped.
Tears reach out in desperation, trying to avoid the inevitable descent from their ocular peaks. “Don’t let us fall” they cry, but it is too late.
The castle is surrounded and the siege is on. The garrison surrounds the child awaiting your instruction, to slaughter so beautiful a being to save her innocence, or to allow her hostage taking by alien powers.
Your heart ever wavering, you wish you could be firm, you hate that child so much in this moment, because you love her with your whole soul. There is no way you could order her death, your mouth tries to utter the command, but your heart rebels and steals your voice.
The enemy storms the gate, the castle falls, the child is taken, you are imprisoned in your own dungeon, pensively awaiting your fate. As they drag her off, she even now tries to give comfort. “I will petition my new liege for mercy, he may still grant you that which you desire, our love will never die, adieu!”
Rot in the dungeon of your own making, but do not blame the child.
I was lord over my domain,
and I gave my heart to search and seek out wisdom concerning all things done under the sky: these painful labours that God has given to man to occupy him.
I have seen all the works done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
That which is crooked cannot be made straight and that which is wanting is innumerable.
I communed with my heart, saying “See, I have received great estate, I have amassed more wisdom than all they before me in this land: truly my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: and I perceived that this is also vexation of spirit.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.