I’m a philosopher-in-training. To question and to doubt comes easily to me. Certainty was once mine, but I love the fluidity of reality and the relativity of truth. They sparkle alive and enlivening, with humour and love.
1. On Failure. What does love mean to you? Did you ever think of yourself as a failure because a relationship came to an end?
For some time I thought of it as a failed relationship: my relationship with God that is. It took me many years to come to terms with my loss of faith. I entered adulthood, however, entirely at peace.
On the subject of love, I am tempted to say that I feel very much the same way now as I did back when. “Love your neighbour as you love thyself,” is something that I still strive towards, even if the endeavour has lost its religious imprint.
As for feeling like a
failure because it ended… No. Like any worthwhile relationship, it was one that I’ve learnt from, and when there was nothing more to learn, for me at least, I chose to move on.
2. On Being Flawed. Are you more comfortable on your own or in a relationship?
To be human is to be flawed. Our flaws are also a part of what makes us unique, beautiful. I’ve heard mortality referred to as a human flaw. I’m not sure I agree with that. Our mortality is a limitation that is very difficult to accept, yes, but a flaw? Once acknowledged, it can be empowering; it can drive us to great things, or simply ordinary things that are great in their simplicity and persistence. There is Art in leading an ordinary life.
I am more comfortable being without God, than I ever was being with. Faith is a very straightforward affair: you either have it, or you don’t. There’s little else to it.
3. On Eros. Do you require a romantic relationship to feel fulfilled?
There is something very powerful about the magic number of TWO. Adam and Eve: one famous couple amongst many others. Perhaps unconsciously we are forever trying to recreate it. But then… Aphrodite was only ONE, and she did rather well for herself.
4. On Soul-mates. Do you believe that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there? Do you ever feel that you are only half of the equation, and will be ‘lacking’ something until you find someone to share your everyday life with?
Working from within the paradigm… I always struggled with the idea of Eve being fashioned out of Adam’s rib. He lacks a rib, and she is one? Of course, the metaphor is not lost on me, but still.
Another question of physiology that has similarly troubled me in this respect is that of “the navel”. Did the original couple have navels or not. If yes, what purpose did they serve? If not, how did the rest of humanity get landed with one?
5. On Self-Love. Do you think that to be loved by others you have to love yourself? What does self-love mean to you? To love, can it sometimes mean letting go?
To be at ease in your own skin, I suppose, is very much what self-love is all about. It makes it easier when you interact with others. It makes it easier not to see endings as catastrophes. They usually aren’t; in life very few things are.
“Because I love you so
I have to let you go.”
Thinking back at my childhood and its Christian setting, the most important type of love was loving one’s deity, which equalled loving one’s parents. Of course, one would always have to be careful not to covet the neighbour’s wife. There are some types of love which are socially as well as theologically unacceptable. Even now, I avoid getting too friendly with my neighbour’s wife. I suppose some norms will linger, try as I might to renounce them.
6. On Fulfilment. Can we only find fulfilment in others, or is it possible to be happy and find contentment in our other accomplishments, whatever our relationship status?
It’s Babel out there. We all speak, perhaps more today with social media at our fingertips than ever before. We speak more than we listen. Oftentimes, we think we understand, but the form doesn’t always fit the content. I still believe that relationships bring us the greatest fulfilment (all relationships, of which the romantic ones are only a small part).
7. On Interpersonal Skills. Are people in relationships simply better at ‘people skills’ than those who are not?
The communitarian aspect of religion promotes interaction. This however does not mean that if you go to church you are somehow automatically better at people skills than if you don’t. As with every group, there will always be those who mingle more, and those who will keep themselves to themselves.
8. On Project R. In what way, if at all, did this project help you think through the question of “relationships”?
If someone told my child-self that at the age of thirteen I would no longer be a believer, I would’ve laughed in their face. If someone told me now that there may come a time when I would be a believer again, I’d still chuckle (internally). Oh, irony might find its arrow’s mark.
I am ready to accept that the agnostic position is a wiser, more mature one to take. Nonetheless, I am not an agnostic. I can argue along the accepted lines and defend my position if challenged, but I have the certainty of the atheist that: with death comes the end and there is nothing after. The only ground that I can give on this, to both Christians and agnostics alike, is Larkin’s verse:
“Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.”
This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.
Photographers, writers, artists, poets: Let’s talk Relationships!
Why? A friend needs my help to get over a tough breakup. And I need you.
How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.
Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be screened on vicbriggs’s blog from the 14th to the 31st of October
The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.
All for a good cause.
I did not plan on writing this post, until I came across AOpinionatedMan’s latest musings on religion, and decided to reconsider a subject that is usually only of intermittent importance for me nowadays. So, thank you OM, for inspiring this. There are two related OM articles on religion and the definition of shame: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/ http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/10/10/om-on-religion-part-4-christian-shame/
And here is a link to my original reblog and definition of the same: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/the-definition-of-shame/