Falling in love (even for five minutes)

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PART ONE

I have a personality something like a nice mellow golden retriever. I quite simply love to love. Love to love you, Baby. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Wag, wag, wag.)

If I had my way, I would openly love anyone. I’m aware how unrealistic that is on our troubled planet, but in my dream world, loving openly, freely, and enthusiastically would be a brilliant way to live. I have a natural inclination to look for the good in people; it simply feels better to me to look for good than to look for bad.

I think it would be great not to have to censor my attraction for people. If I liked something about someone I would like just to say so. I could talk about anything without filtering for political correctness or worrying how the other person might misinterpret my words.

The love that I speak of is not always nor not even necessarily romantic or erotic. Yet for the most part social forces have dumbed down love and sex to the level of a Jughead comic or a Hallmark card. If a comment can be taken as a romantic compliment, it becomes one. So on the slight dangerous side, for example, if I, a male, were to tell a female that I loved how her pink, fleshy lips looked, oh, my, God!

Some people would be threatened or instantly offended by such a remark, no matter how innocent and complimentary it may be in my mind. It would automatically be taken as a suggestive sex wish or a come-on. It would be cast as erotic or romantic because in the Jughead world we talk about physical characteristics of people we are attracted to when we want to share an experience with them. In the old days this would translate to the ever-ubiquitous “Va-va-va-voom!”

“Who, me?”

Then comes the issue of appropriate versus inappropriate behavior, the definitions of which are becoming much murkier these days. Appropriateness is not objective. Excluding flat-out illegal harassing activities, what constitutes inappropriate behavior fluctuates from person to person and from situation to situation.

One woman in a committed relationship might like to hear compliments about her pink, fleshy lips. Another may hear it as disgusting. She might think or say “You can’t say that because I’m taken” as if any possibly flirty comment is invasive and needs to be met with a strong defense.

Imagine a world where a golden retriever is put through human scrutiny whenever he or she  comes up to people to ask for a pet. “I can’t pet you because I am taken. Go away! Shoo!”

For the most part, I keep my yummy-thought-spewing mouth shut. I have learned the art of not sharing those wonderful, delicious thoughts I have about people. There are many unopened gifts gathered underneath the consciousness tree because I have such an active beauty-seeking mind.

PART TWO

When I am attracted to someone for whatever reason, what’s happening psychologically is a process called mirroring. Admiring something in someone else reflects something inside me that I feel good about or that makes me happy.

We’re brainwashed to think that when we are attracted to someone, or to someone’s qualities, that it’s all about who and what that person is. We’re taught how that person bewitches us or drives us crazy or casts a spell on us or is even better than us. Our love songs, romantic movies, erotic movies, and countless other sources lull us into giving the object of our affection huge gobs of emotional control over us.

Yet the truth is that feeling admiration/desire is as much a reflection of who we are as individuals. It reflects our inner landscape—what’s going on inside our minds. If I have loving feelings for a woman whose creativity I admire, it’s as much about my creativity as it is about hers. I notice her creativity because I value mine. And that goes for any other trait I am drawn to.

So the feeling of falling in love (even if it’s for just five minutes) is as much a world of inner discovery as it is being charmed by another. It’s a concentration of energy inspired by someone yet also generated from within me.

I can fall in love at the drop of a hat—or virtually any other article of clothing. I look at someone and appreciate something about that person and feel a burst of energy which I associate with the falling in love phenomenon. It doesn’t mean I need to “have” them (whatever that means.) It means that they are stimulating my neurons.

Although most of our culture thinks of love in physical terms because that’s what we’re taught, love for me is also an energy burst, an upward mood swing, a sense of delight or creative stimulation. This welling-up of energy loves to be expressed, which in this case means communicated or shared. When that crosses into the area of “inappropriate” in the land of romantic boundaries, I just love privately within my inner nature park.

People often wonder why I am so quiet. Perhaps it is because I have too much good to say.

PART THREE 

After having thought about mirroring for awhile—years—I have come to see it as a way we love and express ourselves. So how does that work if I as a man am particularly attracted to a woman with fleshier lips? Does her physical anatomy have anything to do with me? Strangely, yes!

Body parts turn out to be tagged with symbols. Usually unconsciously, sometimes not, we assign symbolic meanings to things including body parts. This symbolic meaning will accompany any interaction that takes place between people. Perhaps I imbue a woman with thicker lips with the symbolism that she is very sensual, would be lovely to kiss, has a more generous personality.

Of course, this is entirely subjective and, as they say, subject to change without notice. My first impulse may be to be attracted or not attracted to a feature for a given reason which could instantly change with the flow of circumstances.

Meanwhile, any given person is much more than one body part or attractive feature, so this symbolic interaction is happening in many realms all at once. Everything we do involves working with the symbols that we have assigned to countless physical and metaphysical qualities—and with those other symbols people have created in their lives.

PART FOUR

The irony will always be that each individual has his and her own symbolic context through which everything is filtered. The outside reality is inwardly perceived.

Realizing that not everyone likes a golden retriever personality in a human being, I know to control my behavior in an affection-neutral style. I know not to express myself without editing for generally accepted standards of appropriateness.

It makes me incredibly dull. Sometimes it means putting my tail between my legs.

 

 

Parental mysteries

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On the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing, I found myself ruminating on a familiar theme: I wished I would have known her.

“What?” you ask.  “You didn’t know your mother?”

No, not really. Not at the depths of my desires or the farther reaches of my curiosity about who she was as a person.

Please don’t misunderstand. We had what casual observers would call a good relationship. I loved my mother and she loved me. In terms of the average American life with average expectations about average family relationships, I had little to complain about. Compared to some of my friends with horror story upbringings, I lived in a cake walk world.

Yet as my mother slipped away from a long and full life, I realized how much was left to know about her. As is true for many parents of her generation, she kept herself in a protective bubble of non-disclosure. It was not usual for her to reveal much of what she was truly thinking and feeling. I doubt if I could tell you why, because that, too, would be hidden within her psyche.

I presume she was just following the values instilled in her. She grew up in a culture where parents shielded their children from knowing their deep, private thoughts. This trend still exists in many of my friends today who are parents. They keep much of their real world secret from their children, many of whom are adults now.

The secrecy game is played with good intentions. It is often borne out of a deep love parents have for their children. Society teaches parents that they are expected to be role models for their children, and as such many do not feel comfortable showing weakness or even that they are struggling. Secrecy is often intended to shield children from the cruelties, insecurities, and challenges of life in this world. Parents want to see their children succeed, and that includes not being bogged down by … well, by reality.

Is it a good thing that parents die off without their kids knowing who they were as people? Is that how the system is supposed to work? Are parents somehow required not to share openly? While it is clearly a tradition many families cling to, is it in the best interests of both?

MYSTERY MAN

Starting right after my mother passed, I lived with my father for his final 30 months of life. He was a caring and generous father by any normal standard, and I was often told how lucky I was to have him as my dad. Still, we hardly knew each other. Dad steered clear of much deep verbal engagement. I got the distinct impression that like many men, he was not comfortable discussing his true feelings, often not even his true opinions.

As his 65 year-old child, I respected his boundaries with conversations, but I would have preferred my own personal Tuesdays with Morrie experience. “Dad, what’s it like to be looking at the end game of your life on Earth?”

“Well, Son, let me tell you. You have a week of hours?”

Dad well knew that I was interested in the mysteries of the afterlife, yet despite his health challenges, he was (surprisingly, I thought) not interested in the topic of what happens after death. His wife and several close friends had passed within the last few years, yet he didn’t ask my thoughts about it. Even while we dealt with the practicalities of health care and hospice, he never once said anything like, “I’m dying.” He would talk about “after I’m gone” in a practical way, like what to do with the furniture, but he rarely shared his thoughts or feelings about the journey he was taking.

I don’t mean to sound critical or whiny; I respect his choices. After all, dying is a highly personal and private experience. But as he left, I still wish I would have known more about his hidden joys and heartbreaks, his successes and regrets, his end-of-show thoughts and feelings. I wanted to know him as the person he was, not as the role he played as my father.

A WRITER’S WORLD

As a creative writer, I love wondering what makes people tick. It’s my passion to know how people see the world and what motivates them to do things. I normally want conversations to get beyond superficial banter like what someone ate last night or what cute sayings someone read on Facebook. I want to get into the juicy stuff that flows like magma underneath the surface of our daily lives.

What are your heartbreaks? What are your ecstasies? What are your aspirations?

Creative writers base stories on motivation. Often in literature and movies, characters will talk at a depth not commonly seen in real life, at least in my real life. We get to know what drives people to do things, often quite poetically.

It’s not so common today in everyday chitchat for people to drop in deep to discuss inner yearnings and deepest pains. In our wired, televised, social media networked world, deep conversations are often reduced to tweet and sound bite brevity. Today, kids are often babysat by big screen HDTVs, little screen tablets, and smart phones. It’s easier than ever to let someone else think for us. It’s easier than ever to lose intimate contact with others because we are being taught to keep it simple. Tweet it or delete it.

I like to talk and write about feelings, relationships, sex, death, afterlife, mystical experiences, unusual perceptions, coping with various situations, solving problems, emotional growth. In-depth conversations about topics—topics that ironically matter most in our daily lives—are simply out of bounds in many families. We’re often taught to put on a good show, and not a reality show.

ONE-WAY STREETS?

Communication between parent and adult child is not always two-way. For example, a mother might help an adult child through a romantic break-up without mentioning what she herself is going through or went through with the child’s father. A parent might give or lend money to an adult child without sharing what a true financial hardship that is. Parents may deal with their offspring’s drug issues or mate choices or job choices without revealing their own struggles.

We are taught to play roles and not tell our truths.

The older I got as a teen-ager, the less of my personal stuff I shared with my mother and father. I had learned the safe topics and the unsafe topics. While I know that it’s entirely normal for adult kids to edit their conversations as much as the parents do, I nevertheless find something sad about the practice.

AFTERLIFE STUDIES

As I have pursued my interest in afterlife studies, I am confronted with the possibility that there are no secrets in the next world. Why? Because in the spirit world, the nature of thought and telepathy does not allow for secrecy. Anybody can read us like a completely open book.

That may sound pretty creepy to earthling ears. No secrets? Everybody knows everything? Even that?

But it is also a love space. So, yeah, everybody knows your secrets, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a very forgiving place.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this is how I respond to the idea that my parents right at this minute know it all. No secret is beyond their spiritual eyes and ears. Even that.

But how strange this is for me now! I’ve noticed that even in imaginary conversations with my parents, where there is an astoundingly small chance of them answering back in a voice I can hear, I have a difficult time discussing my secrets with them. It feels as if it’s not safe. Ha! That programing goes deep.

Of course, any difficulty I experience sharing secrets with my parents-in-spirit only mirrors that I have trouble facing my own secrets.

In the afterlife, we’ll be more like movie actors attending a script conference discussing our character roles. We’ll share our motivations, conflicts, goals, and beliefs from the life just lived. We’ll have a complete backstory from our past lives and our between-life goals and objectives. We’ll probably learn why we eat our secrets. Yes, even about that.

 

What would you tell me?

What are we not telling each other?

What are we not telling each other?

I like to call it the deep end of the pool. It is that place in consciousness where communication is not shallow or superficial. It is where truth is spoken. Deep truth, even when it is silly.

We in our culture are not usually taught to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — except in legal proceedings. We are taught to be nice. Being nice often means not sharing real feelings, not rocking the boat, not offending anyone. Others are taught to be anything but nice. They’re taught to rage and abuse and deceive and manipulate — to be street smart.

But now I am not talking about extremes. I am talking about everyday normal and all the truth we censor out of our conversation and sometimes even our thoughts.

What would you tell me or ask me if you didn’t feel you had to censor things? What would I tell or ask you if we had true freedom of speech?

UNCHAINED DIALOGUE

I wonder about all the things people don’t say to each other because they’re trying to adhere to some idealization of good taste. I wonder how interesting conversations (and life!) would be if we didn’t have that normal level of self-imposed censorship.

Some of those things could be fun. “Describe your favorite kiss.” “Tell me your most joyous secrets.” “What about me makes you feel good?” “What would you really like to do with me for the sheer joy of it?” “What was your most interesting paranormal experience?” “What are your favorite subjects in Earth School?” “What’s the sexiest thing you’ve ever done?” “What have you wanted to do that you haven’t done yet?”

Some more profound. “What do you really think of me?” “What do you really think of my wife/husband/lover?” “What do you really think of your wife/husband/lover?” “What terrifies you?” “What is your life mission?” “What were the last lies that you told?” “What laws have you broken?” “What is your greatest personal accomplishment (and what makes it so great?)” “What are your biggest heartbreaks?”

Sometimes I find small talk and polite conversations almost tortuous. I say almost torturous because when they happen I slip away inside my own imagination, not hanging around in full conscious alertness to endure the boredom. I think I am hard-wired to do that. or else I learned it at a very young age and never outgrew it.

THE DEEP END OF THE POOL

It’s fun swimming in the deep end of the communication pool, and I like to attract to myself people who can dive in. I think it’s why many of us flock to movies, TV, stand-up comedy, and other places where we the people are allowed to step beyond normal, ordinary stilted conversations and enjoy more intellectual and emotional freedom to wing it and zing it.