In the trees, our ancestors weren't required to be monogamous because we didn't really need each other for anything more than the act of procreation. Being a single mother was effortless – it was just a case of gathering fruit as normal, just now with a baby on your back. After moving to the savannah though, where survival was more complicated, men and women had to form partnerships so that each man could protect one or a small number of women from the new predators that would in turn endanger his children. In exchange, each woman would attend to the needs that their protector could no longer deal with himself, as he focused his time and attention on keeping the family alive.
The result is the monogamy we tend towards today and it's no less romantic for having a practical function – perhaps it's even moreso – because its purpose is to guard each other's survival and so the person you commit to is the one whose existence you feel compelled to support. Maybe the exact same feeling of Love did exist before monogamy – there just wasn't any need to express it in a practical way.
You'd still have favoured certain people, you'd just never have to omit any others because of it. The following is a heterosexual model of polarity – but of course polarity exists in different ways in all couples – this is just a kind of shorthand...
There are two landmasses, divided by a river that's possibly a hundred metres wide. Across it is a thin bridge, with a width that only just accommodates walking. And that's it, there's no railing, no nothing – just this narrow platform of smooth metal flooring. The landmass on which I sit – the female side, is on the right - and across the water, that's where I'm guessing the man lives because it's where I always see him in the distance. As soon as the bridge forms between us, we excitedly clamber onto it to meet each other in the middle – because we're a sociable species so that even though it's dangerous to be up here above the water, all meaningful activity has to happen this way – which we're aware of.
Ideally, I'd entertain The Other in my home, on solid ground – but then, he isn't from there – so it's not designed to accommodate his nature. I'm inclined to discard my own, and be received in the safety of his territory – but at the back of my mind, I know – that's not what I'm designed for either – and it's our differences that attract us; so as annoying as it is - the division is an essential component of our unity.
I start to realise, this thin, possibly manmade platform across the watery abyss is our relationship – and however much we like the other - should one of us fall off it, there's no way back on - our time together's over. I know this, because over the years, I've observed dispassionately whilst, like lemmings, countless others have tumbled off previous ones or I've jumped off myself. And I mean in a way, you've got to laugh, don't you? But the thought of this Other not being in my life hurts my heart though - more than anything, he's kind and makes me feel liked.
There's nothing happening – we're just sitting astride the platform, looking at each other and talking easily - and I feel I'm in the right place - the things he wants for his future are all things I want in on! There's only really enough room to go about day to day life, facing fully towards or completely away from each other, either close together or far apart. I try to face him as much as I can – because my job as a woman is to make his world seem warmer and more hospitable - to turn away without needing to would somehow feel a bit negligent or hostile...
But I mean, if there's nothing happening though – am I worried about nothing? What are the chances something's going to knock one of us off here? And why SHOULDN'T I turn my back on him and attend to my business nearer my own landmass – what's the problem? He's an adult, he knows how to walk straight... It's really a thing called trust, isn't it? I trust him to make good decisions for himself, whatever
But then I'm slightly prone to falling off these things, myself, aren't I? I'd certainly rather fall off than be pushed; if he turns his back on me, well I might take that as a lack of interest and stop being as careful about where I'm putting my feet. Fifty metres away I see his arms flapping – he's lost his balance in a moment of absentmindedness. As I run towards him, I feel a flash of anger strike me - why should I pull this idiot back and risk being dragged off myself because he wasn't taking care? I keep running of course.
Halting his fall is extremely ungainly – as I tear over, I simultaneously have to straddle the bridge between my thighs, to anchor myself to it, and when I reach him, grasp up his leg without knocking him over, so I can lever him back by his waistband. This within seconds. I'm annoyed, it's all happened so instinctively – why are instincts so unattractive? My desperation has probably now diminished my allure
in his eyes, and that's going to make him more prone to slipping again. I Hate This Idiot.
But then we're back facing each other and chatting as normal. Such drama – yet it's instantly forgotten because who cares now we're both back in balance again... Also – that worked, didn't it? So that's in the bank – I'll know what to do in the future, and I got a sense of his physicality there, his weight compared to mine, the things he might do that will endanger his endurance on here. I could take that as a learning exercise that actually improves our chances of staying on.
Rule One: Never Stop Paying Attention. I suppose it's not a competition and I shouldn't see it that way – each will jump if they want to – but our mutual support is a constant requirement that prevents the other from slipping off without meaning to. So whenever possible, I resolve to keep him in my field of vision. Bless him, he's a good person, isn't he? If I can support his growth and happiness, I'll be happy – well that's the point of my life...
Infallibility aside though, unfortunately, I'm something of a child. I've never been in a physical fight and when I cry about something, the world takes pity and falls to its knees to support me, letting me know in every instance, I'm always definitely in the right. So if I'm honest with you – infallibiltiy aside... I must admit, I'm kind of slipping all the time – because I don't even know I'm doing it, I certainly don't mean to.
As the days pass by, the jolting swipes from his limbs make it seem like there is a railing after all. Corrective gestures keep me from the water, endlessly, one after the other - and they're sometimes so urgent they leave me feeling bruised and I'm tempted to characterise his personality as somewhat violent. But that urgency is kind of... well it's nice to be cared about, isn't it? Because I can never really feel that
And yet the constancy is his eyes, which in itself, is extremely uncomfortable – so much so it sometimes makes me want to retreat. All the readible scars, etched onto my face – well – I've always hidden them from the others – and I don't mean subtley either – I've literally turned my head to stop them seeing these... sometimes in mid conversation! But perhaps his understanding of me is necessary if he's going to see how I've fallen before and stop it happening again. That means being transparent which... I hate. It means that in some sense he's more intelligent... which I want - but still hate. How'm I supposed to manipulate my way into having the upper hand if I'm legible? This sucks bigtime and no mistake. What this is - is a prison of reality! And what person deserves THAT?
Of course, the true upper hand is being genuinely accepted for your ugliness as well as your beauty – you do realise that, don't you? You can't have security without being properly seen, just an imitation of it. I know, but I like having it my way though – that way I get to be a princess, and I can live in denial of the fact...
...that our time on this thing, never really gets any less prone to suddenly being over. And that's on the verge of being unacceptable – so the more I can live in a dreamworld, the more constructions of denial I can erect to obscure this. I mean... WHO PUT THIS SYSTEM IN PLACE? THINK OF WHAT WE COULD ACHIEVE IF WE DIDN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS SHIT ALL THE TIME!
But The Sky isn't listening.
For the time you're on the bridge, you're never able to get back to your original landmass because these constructions are powered by the male-female circuit of intention – so if one leaves for more than a moment – it starts to fade into nothing. To gather food therefore, you have to lie down on your front and reach over to the plants that grow along the banks. Your friends who still live there don't even know they're alive – what I wouldn't give to have that range of mobility! But they're incomplete of course. I didn't mind that that much either, it gave me something to strive for. There are two fists of tight fingers grappling painfully around my calves and it suddenly occurs to me, the water's not that far from the top of my head! Are you SERIOUS? I had no intention of jumping – I don't WANT to leave – and yet... His face, now a metre above me, is red and contorted as he struggles to drag my hips and torso, back across this Godforsaken bloody bridge we climbed onto all those years ago.
This fucking BRIDGE, man!! I'm sorry but WHY THE HELL ARE WE DOING THIS? IT NEVER GETS ANY MORE SECURE!! Are the OTHERS more secure? The others are UNDOUBTEDLY more secure, look – you can see it! The pain of being near you and wanting to be one with you yet knowing you could be gone in an instant sometimes feels like it's too much! Why would a bridging system be set up this way - it's really badly designed, you know? Why should we have to suffer for our whole entire lives? Perhaps if we loved each other, we'd actually set the other free, no?
And he's turning now, and walking back towards his landmass. But I don't turn away in retaliation – and in truth, I don't even flinch at the fear he'll abandon me. Because we've been in such close proximity for so long, I understand now that he does this sometimes – and it's never led to him leaving. Plus he knows, I didn't mean to do that – he knows it was only a mistake.
So in a way... perhaps our situation has become more secure over time... it's become more secure because our behaviour has – whatever that springs from... Our physical and emotional and spiritual selves – or whatever – they're the place in which there are girders being erected - and buttressing and the endless touching up of paintwork – this physical platform is merely that – a narrow stage, restrictive enough for Good Art to take place. Or Love – or whatever. The stuff anyway, you know - the life-force I suppose that seeks to keep itself going.
Oh My God, can you imagine? CAN YOU IMAGINE – what it would be to have children on this thing. Ha! The thought of it is so absurd, I've never given it any serious contemplation. When you think of that you see, you realise, this construction IS completely man-made and bringing children here, would seriously damage your chances of hanging on... You'd want even more to stay though – and to not have to raise them on one side or the other, you'd hope they could get some kind of balance themselves for practice... Who of anyone is up to the challenge, though?
Although, if it's something he wants, I wouldn't just do it – I'd make sure it went well. No fear, just appropriate action. And I'd do it, alright. No matter the odds.
And perhaps it has its benefits. Observing the others who're parents, God seems to have given them a bit more flooring – well what happens is, the children just arrive with their own, they add physical stability. But then of course comes an entirely new set of rules – the main one being the original one, but more emphatic – which is - “Never Stop Paying Attention.” You could avoid eye contact with your Other indefinitely, after the arrival of chilren, you see? And that'd be easier! I'd have that from day one if it worked, except it doesn't...
With children - not only is there more room get by wordlessly, on the ground that belongs to them – but then there's also a subcategory of Rule One which is “Rule One: Never Stop Paying Attention” because this now applies to his creation, as well as him. And yet the previous iteration of Rule One which is, “Never Stop Paying Attention” IS NO LESS FUCKING URGENT IN HIS DIRECTION than it was
before the arrival... I mean, seriously?
Yes, seriously. Because now, he's actually jealous of these so called “children” who've arrived – even though you brought them here – ALL FOR HIM! Literally using your body as his medium and yet STILL - your attention is even more longed for than it was before you gave him your Self! And you can use the extra flooring to keep your balance, at a push – but you can't lose sight of the fact, it IS the flooring of the children – and they'll take it with them when they leave. If you've dented it, or worn it down, or fought on it and imbued it with, like negative vibes, man – that's the flooring you've sentenced them to walking on for the rest of their lives – that's their half of their own bridge in the future – DON'T – AND I MEAN DON'T
Fuck it up.
(You fucked it up, didn't you? Before you even started. You fucked ALL of it up).
Looking out across the river from my side... To those who annoy me slightly with their boasting and smugness and intertwined lives on thin platforms... You've got to concede, don't you - that's the highest form of intelligence right there – that's the thing to aspire to. And it's smart because it's difficult. I don't do what I want to – which is to pretend it's better being alone... but I only stop myself because of reality though, if it wasn't for that, I'd have a field day with it.
But I can't now – it wouldn't make me good Bridge Material. While I scan the bank I see in the distance, I've really got to build some kind of relationship with The Truth. All of them, either real or conceptual work the same way – they're all just a path of intention and continued attention – they've got to be Real.
Being Aware is Rule One. Which is also - Rule One.