Fifty Shades of Like

In a world that seeks shortcuts, wouldn’t it be nice to succeed the old-fashioned, long-way-around way? The sweetest achievements require time and effort. Getting to a new, better place involves introspection, perhaps some self-denial, almost always a challenge or two.

The shortcut way is to figure out how to circumvent both the physical obstacles and the need for personal growth.

I want the feeling of having personally grown into this improved state of being, but can’t I get there without spending all that time? Or doing all that self-examination crap?

Love, the emotional place, appears to be a destination to which most people aspire. It is as if a magical state of mind involving you and your dreamboat is available, and all you need do is discover a few points of mutual connection, plus some sex. That’s love. From a handful of shared moments we conjur a lasting, solid, astral plane of happy attachment and forever harmony. Shortcut your way to that, and you’ve got it made.

Well, fine, if you think that works. Is it not possible that the real thing cannot ever be found without first starting at the beginning, and working your way towards love? A good start might be to abandon the word that we use so flippantly. Let’s begin with like, or admire; find interesting or enjoy the company of; learn from, or take comfort from. The range of ways to interact is so much more subtle than the binary love/don’t love.

And short-cuts are over-rated anyway.

Nicer With Age

From time to time I read articles describing the changes of growing older. There are physical changes, naturally, and phsychological changes too.

Preventing these changes occupies much of our collective time, a fool’s errand in my opinion. My once blonde and then brown hair is now optimistically ‘salt and pepper’. I note a face that seems to have slipped south from its chipper heyday, and so on until I die. The key word is ‘inevitable’, which doesn’t imply not maximizing what you have, merely that change will occur.

That’s the physical, with which we’re all familiar.

The phsyco side is of more interest to me. I saved this piece from the Wall Street Journal concluding that we generally grow nicer with age. Now, I live in Florida, the grouchy gulag of America’s aging army, and I see absolutely no evidence of this increasing sweetness. My experience is of psychotic driving, ignorant line-jumping and tipping policy from the thirties. That is the 1930s.

You would think that a successful tour through a life of seventy or eighty years would automatically give some calm perspective on being human. A philosphical outlook makes for a nicely settled and stable member of a society. No doubt this is true in many individual cases, but I am skeptical that mere aging delivers these qualities to us without some effort on our behalf.

Nope, it’s the same whether you are eighteen or eighty. If you have personality traits or characteristics that cause you problems with others, you have to choose to change. Waiting for a better you to emerge with the advent of  your McDonald’s Senior Coffee entitlement will get you cheap coffee, but no new friends.

Take Me As I Am

It’s admirable it its own sad way. Limiting and probably mildly destructive, but still.

What am I writing about? The notion that people can take us or leave us based on precisely what they see.

Love me with all my faults, or walk away.

What you see is what you get, and if you don’t want it, too bad.

Take me as I am.

I’m too old to change now, so lump it or leave it.

These get stuffed attitudes are relationship defences. They are about defending a posture of blindness to the truth. State first-up that you have no intention of changing yourself or accommodating another person, and you can justify your singledom to anyone who cares.

I am alone because no-one can love me the way I want to be loved.

But no-one cares. Potential loves will walk away. They don’t care because we all know we can be better, even the self-protectors. Mature people understand that none of us is perfect, but that life is made more satisfying by working at getting closer. The humility of admitting to shortcomings signals insight. Making change, however small, is the basis of righteous admiration. Admiration is fuel for attraction.

My opinion is that it isn’t your dodgy past or bad habits or weird nose that keep you single. What keeps you single is insisting that someone else adopt your rigid attitudes towards your own potential. Keep your justifying biases, but don’t expect anyone else to pander to them.

Why should anyone else work harder at uncovering the best you than you?

Relationship Inertia

Dammit, I just can’t get motivated.

I’ve been single for…counting the years…okay, if we’re counting years I hardly need be specific. Let’s just say “a long time.” And you’d think, as I do, that I would be keen to snuggle up to a sweetie. Well, of course…and maybe not so much.

It comes down to this. Having been single for that long, finding and keeping someone special in my life will require a change of thinking and acting, a change of course. And that will require application and effort. After all, once an ocean liner is steaming in one direction, you cannot instantly send it in a new one.

The other side of that coin is applicable too. If you’re in a relationship of some length, the habits (and ruts) we all groove into are just as restrictive. If a path you’re both on is heading over a cliff, somebody has to apply the brakes and help the other one find a new roadway.

In essence: being single and changing that requires effort and attention. Being attached and maintaining that requires effort and attention. I seem to have made a case for noting that nothing wonderful happens from an attitude of benign neglect.

Whatever. (sic)