“Is faith a belief in something that doesn’t exist? Not exactly…”
[Originally published on MySpace on June 8, 2010.]
I tend to vacillate in my writing between a more formal, academic stance and an intuitive seeking that is informed by a broader field of feeling and experience—sometimes within the same piece. This is more of the same, of course…enjoy the song in any case. It’s a good one!
“Hold on loosely, but don’t let go
If you cling too tightly,
you’re gonna lose control
Your baby needs someone to believe in
And a whole lot of space to breathe in…”
What does THIS mean? It means don’t worry too much if the love of your life has other people and things he/she cares about in their life in addition to you. However it may be that the human heart is designed, it is my observation that each of us is capable of engaging with a number of different individuals, on differing qualitative levels and in differing (or even similar) realms, throughout the course of our daily lives. This is a Good Thing, because placing the burden of need entirely on one person can be overwhelming for that person, and because quite likely what you need is going to come from a number of different sources, since it is all too rare to find everything packaged neatly all in one person. If this were NOT the case, then it would be unlikely we as a species would be able to function at all, because if you haven’t noticed, we’re all about networking. Human beings are social critters.
Think about it. If you had a group of 10 people, and each of those people was focused entirely on just one other of those 10 people, what would you have? A community? No. You’d have war, particularly if each of those 5 relationships didn’t line up with each other, i.e., Person A is attached to Person B, but Person B is attached to Person C. Where does that leave Person A? Will someone in the group get left out? Will someone have more than one relationship to deal with, when the rule is only one? It quickly becomes ridiculous if you scratch it out on a piece of paper and try to make sense of it–and it quickly becomes obvious that this isn’t how it works. Add in the additionally obvious part about how we’re not designed to “imprint” on just one person, the way ducklings imprint on their mother (or the nearest damned light bulb), and it becomes even more ridiculous.
So then why is it that a song like the one above comes into being? Everyone knows this song, probably LOVES it, and very likely nods their heads in agreement as to its message. This, to me, is an indication of the all but universal idea that we tend to operate as if there is some kind of clearly marked territory we may stake out in the heart of another in which no other might trespass. Or that the position we occupy relative to others in that heart must be on the very top of a vertical hierarchy of love, so that again we are alone and unique to that person, even to the extent that we impose an extreme version of “forsaking all others,” and this is before we even get to the part about sexual fidelity (which I’m going to try to avoid talking about for now, but we’ll see).
We’ve all heard the expression “it takes a village to raise a child.” This doesn’t mean merely that the work of caring for a child is such that it ideally takes a group of adults to get it done. It means that this child, for the ideal fulfillment of its potential in development emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and practically, requires the attention of a number of different adults (as well as other children) who all have some kind of relationship with each other, and thus differing perspectives that are nonetheless part of a cohesive whole. A community, in other words…what did you think a village was? The thing is, this need for a village doesn’t disappear magically once the child is grown. What sense does that make? Why bother with a village if it isn’t going to be necessary later on? How are you going to provide a village for subsequent children if as an adult it isn’t required? Is a child the only reason to have a village?
Hell, no. So then what’s up with the isolation of hearts? Again, why did the song above come into existence, and why does it make sense to us, yet we don’t act this way nine times out of ten (or more)? What does it take for us to hold on loosely?
Faith, of course. In a myriad of forms, incarnations, levels, and manifestations. Faith that the love of one does not preclude or exclude the love of another. This means you need to have an understanding not only of your internal value, but also an understanding of your value externally, within the world in which you exist, and you must be able to value others on their terms, granted individuals you are attracted to are going to be pre-selected according to who you are (even if you don’t know who you are, in which case, if you’re curious, refer to the first part of this sentence).
THIS, friends and neighbors, becomes a tad problematic when the world we live in keeps insisting that in order to participate in the realm of love, there must be winners and losers. There must be people who have what it takes, while others don’t, and there’s no way to gain what it takes if you aren’t born with it or if, not having been born with it, you don’t manage to trim yourself to fit various ideals of what it takes—which of course means living a lie. When we use others to measure our worth, rather than as a means of validating it, what’s going to happen most of the time?
Crash and burn. You’ll spend all your time worrying about what you (supposedly) don’t have that others (supposedly) do, and demanding that the object(s) of your affections love only whom you say they may.
Is faith a belief in something that doesn’t exist? Not exactly. Faith is your best guess based on a realistic understanding of what does exist so far projected into the future in the hope that your expectations will pan out. Bear in mind that the future is only a moment away at all times, and that “so far” is always on its heels, so that there is always a recursive dynamic of understanding which informs your best guess…
…so long as you don’t try to nail that dynamic down into a stasis of arbitrary conditions that have more to do with fear of that very same future—in other words, you’re trying to insist upon a guarantee—than with the natural progression of love.
What is the nature of the relationship between love and faith? Love is what we are. Faith is the dynamic patience that allows that love to come to fruition, over and over, moment to moment, and over the long term.
Too, here’s a little something to think about as you’re stewing inside your head. Are individual human beings interchangeable with one another? Are you thinking of yourself as the common denominator around which the rest of humanity swirls in a maelstrom of homogenous being? Do you think of other people in terms of what they mean to you, in terms of the particular nature of common ground you might build between you, or in terms of what role you think they might fill in relation to you?
Of course, it takes more than love and faith posed as some kind of mystical and a-substantive mantra to get the job done. There has to be some kind of structure that sustains these dynamics as dynamics. Since, as the song above suggests, there seems to be a contradiction between what we can do (love) and what we actually do (allow it to go bad), I’m inclined to look at underlying structures, i.e., “systems…faith structures, governance, education, economic infrastructure, interpersonal relationship norms, etc.” But that is a really BIG topic, and this is just a very small blog, and besides, I’ve already talked about it a little bit in other blogs (go look!), so feel free to comment, but I’m going to slam on the brakes here and let you toy with your thoughts…
4:10 PM 18 Comments 7 Kudos