Monday, August 2, 2010

Bouncing with Two Gentlemen of Verona

Watching two fictional characters bounce from one end of the extreme to the other in their desires and motivations for no apparent reason, I wondered if that is possible in life, in my life for example.

I would have to say: Yes.

One of my “bounces” took place over a long period of time (unlike anything that ever happens in a Shakespeare play). I realized that I did not want to be a Mormon.

I was raised a Mormon and discovered Germany when I was sent on a mission here, and I believed in the church with a hot fervency that was like holding on with the tips of my fingers to a reason to life. But even then, in the beginning, there was an alternative in my mind: To be able to write, they said, you had to break out of a strict moral confines and a conforming society and experiment, see the other side, see all sides, be free of ideologies to observe what life really is. Well, all that was theory. What bugged me most was a single sentence: “There has never been a great Mormon writer.” I knew there was truth to that and if I was ever going to be a writer…
Yet, should I sacrifice God and the Truth just for a career and earthly kudos? What kind of a superficial soulless man am I?

I didn’t break out until there was more reason to do it.

In Germany, at 30, I realized that my life itself was crippled by the church, contained, dominated. My will was not my own, it was like a child’s, who asks permission for everything. It was the midlife-crisis-at-thirty that made me leave the church.

That may say something about me as a writer – that I am not dedicated enough. Maybe. You know the old Faulker addage about being willing to sell your grandmother.

It may also say that the dream of career was never the most important thing in my life, though I’d always thought it was. Life itself, what life is, the experience of it, was always more important, though I didn’t know it.

The second bounce was, as with Proteus, a woman.

I really was all fire and lust over this one beautiful, mysterious and sensual woman, and I still am (like many men, I tend to fall into love often but never really out of it). But she was not an intellectual, a writer, a brainy type. It was inevitable that I would meet her opposite: A writer. Also mysterious, also sensual, but it was not her sex I was after. It was her brain. As soon as I met her I knew I had to have that brain, and I made the trade-off quickly and without thinking twice.
Women like to say that men only want sex, but it’s not true. Even if they say it. Even if they believe it. Sex is the carrot before the jackass and the first order of business, but “urgency” is not “priority”. We confuse that sometimes. It’s sex and sexualized women we think about constantly and look at on the street, but what we really want is usually something else. Sometimes we don’t know it until we are faced with both options.

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