Monday, July 04, 2005

My True Love

Love is not a word I can comfortably and unselfconciously use . In the school I went to it was a kind of swear-word that you scratched into the horrid pale brown wall of the freezing cold toilet cubicle in the playground. This does not make it easier for me now, married for well over a decade and having to weigh the options in so stark a fashion, but there it is. I am in a predicament. I need help and the only one I have to turn to expects from me in return something I am not sure I can give.

He is prepared to give me everything I want. He promises me material wealth and comfort with everything I need to ensure my success and wants only one thing in return; my love. He will not tolerate that anyone else should come first in my attentions, not even my wife. To be perfectly frank, that kind of love is not only something I cannot imagine experiencing, I have to wonder whether I would be comfortable feeling it, let alone displaying it publicly. His implied threat, of course, is that I will lose it all if I cannot convincingly demonstrate that I can. Tempted as I am by the offer of all the luxury and the promise of a quiet worry-free life I am not sure I can in good faith promise to deliver the goods.

Childhood memory does not start abruptly. Most people cannot put a date on their first memory but there are things that you remember you always knew. He was like that for me. He has always been there in the background, the benevolent uncle and bringer of gifts, for as long as I can remember. He pissed me off enough in my childhood, mostly for not always giving me everything I wanted, but then again I was not always the easiest of children. He has always been close to me though and held in a measure of esteem and warm friendship. Still it is difficult for me to change the perceptions that have built up in my mind over time. He was always a kind of symbol for me, of the world that existed before me, the elders and Rebbes, parents, grandparents and uncles. His transformation into the object of my affections was never going to be a breeze anyway.

I have to be honest with myself too. I can do it and I can do it convincingly enough. My real concern would be then living with the people around me. I have only to imagine walking down the street, once word has gotten out about my new lifestyle choices, and I feel my cheeks start to warm already. It just isn’t me. I can’t imagine being the person people whisper about furtively. I cringe even more in anticipation of those who will be effusively supportive and broad-minded. So I think I will politely and regretfully decline the kind offer and blame my continued lack of fulfillment and tranquility on those who taught to me allow all these obstacles to get in the way of me doing as I see fit

If only I had been more at ease with the concept of love and had been trained to recognise it when it is offered and to accept it graciously, I might now feel more comfortable accepting the deal being offered to me. I was not. I was taught to fear Him and anticipate His anger rather than to bask in His warmth. So, together with all my friends I will continue to pray by rote and ignore the true meaning of the words of the Krias Shema (Deuteronomy 11:13-21).

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