Friday, 18 August 2017

On Loners and Relationships.

My lady fair
The Lady Fu
Is ever coy, though not oblique

From iv’ry hair
To iv’ry shoe
She’s all a gentleman might seek

The Lady Fu is my 18" high statuette of a fine Chinese lady. I'm very fond of her. So...

I keep thinking lately about members of my family who’ve gone now – grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, my half brother, my only full blood cousin… Most of them died early between their forties and their seventies; only a few of the women made eighty. And when I do think about them I’m struck by the fact that when they went, I was one of those people in their orbit who was left behind to carry on. One day it will be my turn to leave and everybody else’s function to carry on.

Not that there are many people in my orbit, of course; I’ve never been the sort to make commitments, connections, or even close friends of any stature. Maybe that’s because I’ve never known what the word ‘love’ means, not even when it comes to grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and cousins.

Actually, that probably isn’t quite true. A psychotherapist once suggested that the only normal (whatever that means) relationships I ever had were with my daughter, my dogs Em and Penny, and Dylan the tomcat. Maybe that’s what love is. It would be nice to think so.

I suppose the salient point here is that children and animals are relatively simple creatures who give their affection unconditionally, and that means they can be regarded with a reasonable amount of trust. Adult humans, on the other hand, are too informed by cultural and environmental conditioning, a feature which produces the kind of flaws guaranteed to keep an idealist like me a bit at arms length. There have been – and still are – a very few special people whom I’ve been able to greatly like, respect and want to be with, but I doubt that would be anybody’s definition of love.

(Maybe there is one person who might qualify, but I really don’t know. I avoid the question because there seems little point in committing to a ghost.)

So is being the perennial loner a good or bad thing? It’s a pointless question. A life is a life and in the end we have little honest choice but to be authentic. Besides, being a loner encourages the tendency to observe. And if my suspicion with regard to the purpose of life is right, that probably isn’t a bad thing.

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