My son didn’t ask, but mothers are pretty good at unsolicited advice in life and love and all those things that are only somewhat discerned by merit of age and time. If I were to try to explain to him why he should abandon the “friends with benefits” arrangement he’s got going on with the ex-stripper, it would go something like this:
The great theologian and philosopher Axl Rose (of Guns-N-Roses fame) once stated in his version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” that, “You don’t get out of life alive.” I also understand his point about both the bank and the mortician- the two inevitabilities of this life are death and taxes. Nobody escapes either of those. Nobody escapes the common human dilemma of finding one’s way through life and surviving in the process, either, though some do a better job of it than others.
As far as the wisdom of the concepts of “not getting out of life alive,” and “you can’t take it with you,” go, both sort of go along with the Biblical admonition to give one’s life as an offering. You were created to have a purpose in this life, even if it’s simply one of being an example of what not to do, or serving to expand others’ vocabularies. We all came into the world naked and not having any stuff, and we all go out the same way, so what are you going to do with the time in-between?
We all know that our physical bodies are going to become worm food. There are a few things worth sacrificing and fighting for, precisely because we cannot preserve youth and health and wholeness in these physical bodies, or for that matter, youth and health and wholeness in any aspect of our lives. Entropy WILL win. Systems all eventually break down, if you want to frame the inevitability of entropy in tech geek terms. Life in this world is a finite proposition.
The question is, what do you do with the finite resources you have been given, that you can acquire, that you can pool with others?
It’s great if you can amass all kinds of wealth and get all the best stuff, and prepare for every possible contingency, but in the end, what do you do on that night when your life is required of you? (I’m referring to what Jesus said in Luke 12:13-21.)
If you don’t get what really matters, then who cares about money or power or prestige or stuff?
I’m not going to go on a morality-chastity-clean living rant, because I am no poster child for any of the aforementioned. I have never been a paragon of virtue. I am a Christian, but that is only by the grace of God. He left me to my rebellion and own devices for awhile (about seven years’ worth) so I could see just how much trouble I could get into out there in the pig pen. I got a rather nasty taste of how nasty and depraved I can be apart from a relationship with God. Finally, I realized, again, by the grace of God, like C.S. Lewis did, that if I were going to be sane and worth anything to myself and others, that it was and is Christ or nothing.
That realization does not make me more virtuous or more moral or more prudy. It does not make me less human or less fallible. It does make me all the more aware that anything good anyone sees in me is not my inherent goodness, but the goodness of God. I fail a lot, but apart from Him I fail and screw up a lot more.
Yes, Christians are hypocrites. Get over it. So is everyone else. I can say that, but for the grace of God, I would be a LOT worse. I need God precisely because I know how depraved and hopeless I am without Him.
All these theological and philosophical observations being said, and back to the assertion that one of my purposes in life is to serve as an example of what not to do, I will give you a heartfelt admonition.
If you are one of those people who are blessed enough to find true love in this life, don’t let it go. I know that it can and does happen, even if it is too late for me.
Part of the reason why I can be so cynical and snarky when I consider matters of the heart is because true love has always eluded me. I’ve been used, abandoned, exploited and deeply damaged by people who claimed to “love” me. My wiring is such that I don’t understand or communicate very well in the emotional realm. To add insult to injury, most men are intimidated by intelligent women, and most men are not terribly thrilled with plain and frumpy looking women. I blend in to the wall pretty well. It’s a survival mechanism. At no time in my life were dudes ever banging down my door. If they did talk to me it was to get my phone number- so they could call my sisters. I was even voted, “Least Likely to Get Laid” in my (unofficial) high school senior will. So I felt like I had to take what I could get, even if it meant settling for minimum standards such as, “vertical and sucking up valuable oxygen.”
Hair and teeth optional, especially at my age.
I hate to admit it, but all I can say about my own marriage is that at best it’s a symbiotic relationship, but a good deal of the time it’s more like a parasite vs. host relationship. Maybe it’s harsh to call Jerry a parasite, but he can and does suck the life out of me with his incessant whining and infantile demands. He didn’t need a wife, he needed a mommy. And I’m not all that great at playing the mommy role, but it’s all I have to offer. I haven’t gotten a better offer, and even if I did, I would be morally obligated to decline it. In Jerry’s defense, he has put up with me for all of these years, as frumpy and plain looking as I am, and as eccentric as I am. That says something- although in Jerry’s mind it’s probably, “there’s someone in this world who will fetch my beer and smokes for me.”
But if you find true love, that indescribable and blissful universe of two, understand what it is. Hold it, cherish it, fight for it, and never let it go. Otherwise you will find yourself in the same predicament I am- either completely alone, or bound by a sense of duty(?) pity (?) desperation (?) to someone who only cares about you as long as you’re useful to them.
I guess I’m good for as long as I can fetch beer and smokes.
I will tell you that expediency and usefulness are not the same as love. Sex doesn’t necessarily equate to love either. It’s easy to get caught up in hormones and horniness (been there done that) but when the excitement and lust die down, what do you have? From my own experience I can say that following the hormones and horniness path has led to a lot of guilt, embarrassment and shattered dreams. It’s not worth it. I’m thankful that my past indiscretions didn’t wreak as much havoc as they could have.
Don’t follow in my path. Don’t let a chance at true love go because of fear or because you need to hold on to perceived obligations. It sounds trite, but love will find a way. Unless you’re an eccentric old bat who’s proportioned like a mutant troll.