Adolescence, Adolescent Sexuality, Attachment, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Coffee Shop Folks, Coffee Shop Stories, Family, Fatherless Children, Fatherless Daughters, Fatherless Girls, Friends, Human Nature, Jackie, Jerks, Judgementalism, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Mental and Emotional Health, Obsession, People, Quality of Life, Relationships, Sarah, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-determination, Self-Knowledge, Sex, Sexuality, Society

All the Young Women

SUMMARY: I take a look at the women I met some years ago in Colorado Springs, and then draw a few conclusions about the challenges they faced at that time in their lives.

(About a 8 minute read)

People are often more predictable than life itself.  I can often predict, with surprising accuracy, what a long-term friend will do in almost any situation, but my life has taught me that it can be considerably more difficult to predict where I will be in a year or two.

I certainly did not expect when I came to Colorado that I would soon know — at least casually — about 200 young men and women twenty years younger than me, nor that about two dozen of them would befriend me.

Yet that’s what happened — largely as a direct consequence of my choosing to frequent a coffee shop that both served the cheapest cup in town and was the hang out of hundreds of local high school students.  Since it was also the oldest and most established coffee shop in town, it was also the hang out of everyone else — from the mayor and some city council members to several homeless people.

Continue reading “All the Young Women”

Alienation, Alienation From Self, Bad Ideas, Free Spirit, Human Nature, Jackie, Josh, Law, Life, Love, Lovers, Morality, Obligations to Society, Oppression, People, Sex, Sexuality, Society, Spirituality, Values, Wisdom

“He Kept the Law and Saved the World for You, Praise be!”

(About a 3 minute read)

Josh was lean as a wolf that fall
And strong as a hawk’s wings.
That October when the comet
Hung over the San Luis in the night.

And the coyotes called out in the night.
The coyotes yearned in the night.

Jackie heard the coyotes call
And wanted Josh but didn’t know
At seventeen how to overcome
Her ancient fears (born before the first gods)
For the sake of her ancient desires.

(Fire and ice
Ice on fire
Which will win?)

Jackie, then Josh, asked your advice
Back when you didn’t like
Giving advice.
Too much responsibility,
Too little wisdom to know
Which way to turn a young life.

Someone else that summer
Offered herself to you.
She was as young as Jackie.
As beautiful as Josh.

You pretended not to notice.
And she pretended not to care.
You stayed friends that way.

Josh was lean, but you listened to her.
Josh was strong, but you felt her.
And (let’s get honest here)
She sensed you knew how to love a woman
So that she cared to be loved,
Cared to share her bed with you.
That’s why she turned to you.
But you didn’t see it then.

(How long we must live
Before we see anything!
We’re always half in our graves,
At least half in our graves
Before we know life at all.)

(And why didn’t you see it?
It’s not like you at forty
Were one of those boys,
Those boys, those “pick-up artists”,
Who know more about how to get fucked,
Than they know how to fuck.
You cared for her. She cared for you.)

Today you would have accepted her.
Your fire has rekindled now,
Now it burns green again.
You’re wiser now, less a fool,
And the blood of outlaws
Burns in your veins.

Love moves according
To its own laws.
According to laws
Born when the universe
Was new.

You can try
To put chains on it,
And cage it, tame it,
Make it acceptable
As a garden plant.

(That’s what they do, you know.
Across the world they do it:
They play the alchemist:
With strange heats and poisons
They turn gold into lead,
But call it lead into gold.
Those guardians of morality.
Those liars.)

But love is a weed
And will always grow wild.

A weed with thorns
It will have its revenge
If you try to pluck it.

Deny it and deny life.
Die years before you’re dead.

The busybodies will praise
You for how you sacrificed
To keep their civilization
From crumbling to the sea.

(Yeah they will. They really will.)

I hear their eulogies already.
Their ironic eulogies for you
That they’ll roar from their pulpit
(“Roar” by putting a moral spin on things.)
So even the dead may hear
How Jackie and Josh were lawful
And so were you.
And so were you.

Somewhere the coyotes call.
The savage coyotes call out
In the night to something
Inside you that’s no longer
Yours and is gone anyway.

But you did save civilization.

For you and the girl didn’t fuck.

Let this be your eulogy then:

“He denied love,
He kept the law,
Saved us all,
By not fucking,
By not confusing
Good with Evil.
Not mixing
Youth and age.”

Let that be carved in stone.
It’s enough to make a dead man proud,
And pride is more ethical than love.

Right?

Attached Love, Coffee Shop Folks, Courtship, Erotic Love, Happiness, Infatuation, Jackie, Love, Lovers, Marriage, New Love, Quality of Life, Relationships, Romantic Love, Sexuality

Should You be Friends Before You Become Lovers?

(About a 3 minute read)

“I’m here, sir, to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

“Do you like her, boy?”

“Sir, I love her more than I love anything else in the world!”

“I didn’t ask if you loved her, I asked if you liked her. Love is wonderful, but love isn’t enough by itself to get you though the arguments and tough times any husband and wife will have.”

(An old movie, the title of which I’ve forgotten.)​

There was a comet in the sky that fall, and ostensibly, Jackie and I had come out on the porch at dusk to sit under a blanket and watch it. But Jackie soon began talking about “boys”.

She was 17 that year, and though she hadn’t much experience of boys, she went into great detail about her relationships with them. It took her two hours to cover the topic, and she wrapped things up with a simple question, “What do I have to do to keep a boy? I’ll do anything you tell me to do. I’ll change myself in any way. But tell me what I have to do.”

I suggested she was looking at it the wrong way. It might not be best for her to think about changing herself to suit boys, but rather best for her to be true to herself. The boys who really loved her for who she was would appreciate that. She politely thanked me and we wandered off our separate ways.

About ten months later, Jackie stopped me on the street one day to tell me my advice had not made immediate sense to her. But she had thought about it, and over the past month or so, it had begun to click.

I think Jackie had a point. It can be hard to fully understand what it means to be true to oneself, and even more so, see the importance of that in our sexual relationships with people. But my advice didn’t really go far enough.

Had I been thinking that night of the comet, I would have gone on to suggest to Jackie that she pick her lovers from among her friends. That is, that she become friends with someone before becoming a lover to them, when at all possible.

Now, tons of folks might disagree with me there. They tell me they don’t want to do that because they’re scared of “ruining a good friendship”. Normally, I’d respect that, but in this case, I think that’s crazy talk. You can’t ruin a good friendship by becoming lovers. You can only reveal or unmask a “good” friendship for what it really is — a bad friendship. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s your choice whether you want to risk that.

Beyond that, befriending someone before becoming their lover is perhaps the best way to get to intimately know who they are as a person before you get so involved with them that it becomes hard to extricate yourself from the relationship, should that be wise to do.

Moreover, it’s much easier to see who someone is when you are not sexually passionate about them. But perhaps the best reason to pick your lovers from among your friends is that love is seldom if ever enough on which to base a committed, long term relationship.

It’s not just that, soon enough, giddy-headed romantic love wears off. Romantic love is usually replaced by a deeper bond. It’s that friendship is insurance of a more comprehensive relationship than love. You can love someone without actually liking them, but when that happens, your relationship tends to come down to little more than sex. Friendship guards against that.

Of course,  plenty of couples come together as lovers before they develop friendships for each other.  I’m not arguing that folks should absolutely forgo any romantic relationships unless they’re friends first.  But I do believe there are advantages to first being friends.

So, ideally speaking, should you be friends with someone before you become lovers?

Adolescence, Adolescent Sexuality, Alienation From Self, Authenticity, Bad Ideas, Being True To Yourself, Eudaimonia, Fatherless Daughters, Fatherless Girls, Friends, Honesty, Human Nature, Jackie, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self, Self Identity, Self-Flourishing, Self-Knowledge, Sexuality, Spirituality, Values, Well Being

Jackie In The Year of the Comet

The resort is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. It is laid out on the side of a mountain and revolves around nine outdoor pools fed by natural hot springs. Some years ago, six of us drove three and a half hours West through the mountains and then down into the San Luis Valley to reach that remote, isolated resort.

There are no nearby cities and the resort is kept as primitive and close to nature as is feasible for a resort. The place is so beautiful that some people treat it as sacred, and so you hear people speak in whispers — as if in a cathedral.

After the six of us reached the resort, we spent most of the day soaking together in the upper pool — which is the pool furthest up the mountain. The air was fresh and crisp. The loudest noise was the wind through the ponderosa — which sounded like a river. Eventually, three mule deer came down from the mountain to graze beside the pool. In the late afternoon, when the sun was red in the sky, the coyotes began to call to each other.

That afternoon, Jackie fell asleep next to me in the shallow water, her head raised up on a smooth rock, her body beneath the surface on a bed of moss and stone. The sun danced over the shape of her beneath the water, and I thought she was beautiful beyond words.

After we came back from the pool, Jackie and I somehow ended up at nightfall sitting together on the porch of the Oak House to watch a comet — which was in the sky that year. Since the resort was clothing optional, neither one of us was wearing anything and it got chilly. Jackie brought out a blanket and covered both of us with it. Then she began talking about her life.

Jackie was 17 in that year — the year of the comet — and the part of her life she most wanted to talk about was her relationships with boys. Over the course of two hours, she told me everything she could think to say about boys, how they treated her, and how she treated them.

Finally, she summed up all she’d been at length to say: “What do boys want, Paul? What do I have to do? I’ll change myself anyway I must change, but I need to know what boys want?”

When Jackie had been absorbed in talking, a part of me had felt she was almost blasphemous in her disregard for the night. In the crystal darkness, you could see the colors in the stars. There were thousands of stars, and Jackie’s voice seemed somehow to rub against them, though the stars were infinitely silent. Why couldn’t she be as silent inside herself as the stars above us?

I put those petty thoughts aside, though, because they were not worthy of Jackie, and tried to answer her. “Jackie, the boys who really love you want you as you are. They will not want you to put on a mask or an act for them. They will want the person that is you. So, the best, most generous thing you can do for those who really love you is to be genuine. Is to stay true to yourself. In that way, you will give them what they want.

“How could you love the stars tonight if clouds obscured them, Jackie?  In the same way, how can a boy love you if you ever succeeded in masking who you are — and even if you made your mask out of gold.

“If you mask yourself, Jackie, the boys who love you will not really love you.  They will love only your mask.  How lonely do you think that will make you feel in the end?”

We spoke a few more words to each other and then fell together into silence. In the chill, our bodies touched and shared their warmth beneath the blanket.  The moon had set some time before and now the comet trailed luminous dust. Jackie lifted her binoculars — which she hadn’t used until then — and gasped.  Far above the San Luis, the comet was a bold jewel set in the infinite night. A bold, authentic jewel set against the night.


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