went to the no nukes rally
the don quixotes made me feel silly
went to the punk rock show
nobody that i know did go
went to my university
boys and girls dress up and look pretty
went to the party last night
i was there, but it was really out of sight
my world is my mind
i’m locking myself inside
people, they can’t get in
i have no use for them
Descendants, My World
My honey and I had an interesting discussion toady about labels.
It all started last night in talking about the path we have taken toward polyamory and introducing other people into our lives. As I noted, it all started when Eddie came back into my life and I found that my feelings for him remained strong after all these years.
At one point last year, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to be proactive about the situation: stop waiting for (and pushing) my honey to be able to deal with my issues and take it upon myself to make a decision about the future of my life. This included a trip to go see Eddie and figure out what those feelings were telling me, find out who he is and how (or if) he has any place in my life. When my honey and I talked about this, he had a very negative response and after several days of talking we ended up opening up the possibility of polyamory for both of us, while delaying my decision on Eddie until after we had wrapped our fingers around this shared possibility.
Last night, he told me that if I had gone to see Eddie back then, he would have felt that I was “Cheating on him, with his knowledge” and that this was because, in his mind, we were monogamous. I had not seen it that way, because in my mind “cheating” is defined by dishonesty. But for him, it was the label, itself, that was key. By comparison, once we considered polyamory – and more importantly, enacted those changes in our life – the concept of cheating became, for him, a function of dishonesty as well. (IE, we could still “cheat” on one another, if one of us were to cross the boundaries we have set for ourselves, or dissemble in some way)
This led me to ponder the possibility that there may be some value in labeling ourselves: that it allows us to more quickly and easily reach decisions, make choices, act. That has always been distasteful to me, but I had to stop and think about it. I finally decided that there really was no value in that: by applying the label ourselves, we merely lock ourselves into a behavior pattern, a belief set, a self understanding that really, is a transitory thing. I am not the same person today as I was yesterday, nor as I will be tomorrow. That is an idea that I relish; it provides opportunity and growth and the potential for new and varied experience. Without that opportunity, life itself is diminished.
Today, we expounded upon this further. I have defined myself over the years based upon my own perception of how I feel about things. That’s kind of vague, I guess. Over the years, I have been confronted with situations, relationships, conundrums and conflicts, and I have determined my course of action based upon who I see myself to be. At times, that definition has been unclear, or the situation has been unique, so I have had to determine what course of action I would take based upon what seems to be internally consistent with my general philosophy. Sometimes, I have found gross inconsistencies or hypocrisy and I have then been driven to ‘solve’ the dilemma. Any hypocrisy I perceive in myself simply must be resolved before I can move forward in any way. This is a big part of who I am.
At the same time, I am not unaware that people do apply labels to others and base their beliefs, opinions and expectations on these labels. The one that has been concerning my lately relates to this blog. When I first started it, my intention was to draw a connection between eros, philia and agape: how do the different aspects of love relate to one another and to each of us in our lives. As a result, I have written about our relationship to the Community of Life and one another and ways that I see of improving that relationship. Everything from true community development through practical tools and techniques that can be used to help achieve that healthier relationship. I have also written about personal love and friendship relationships; about communication and self understanding, about my own personal demons and the battles I have found myself fighting. So far, so good. This was as I planned. But then my personal life took on a new level of bizarreness. My philosophies began to be applied to my real life. This was a little more than I originally expected, but it was still me. Then I started participating in Half Nekkid Thursday and my Sunday Stories series***. Where before there had been a nagging feeling that the open sexuality of some of my posts might color the way people were reading my essays, now it was a blaring siren in my mind. Was I losing credibility? Would people ignore what I wrote because they could to take me as a serious, intellectual person?
All valid questions. But yesterday it all became clear to me. While there certainly is that danger that some people will dismiss me, more important (to me) is the fact that I am practicing what I preach. I stress, day after day, the importance of looking at the full complexity of any thing or system, of avoiding the reductionism that is so prominent in our society, that nothing ever stands alone. And this is as true of who I am, as it is of the ecosystem or our culture or our physical health. I am complex, with many facets and many different interests and ideas. I can not expose some small, reduced piece of WhoIAm and then expect people to grasp the ideas that I present. I must practice what I preach. Those that don’t get that, never would have anyway.
** From an ee cummings quote via Dave Pollard, who, once again, wrote an article today very much related to the thoughts we were exploring over the last two days.
***Neither of these series have been recreated in this blog….
(Originally Posted March 16, 2007)