This is a blog post by Floh member, Shruti. Learn more at www.floh.in (a network that connects singles in real life)
The person who spearheaded the initiative of member-based contribution towards the Floh blog has himself written a delicately humorous and intriguing piece that threw light on the problems faced by the other sex in the quest for finding love. The problems were distinct from mine as a female on the same journey. Whilst the new subtle insights in the piece were revelatory for me, the ensuing conversation with the writer also catapulted my mind into a quagmire of thoughts on the subject. To me what’s most important today, is to try and understand our collective ‘failure to launch’ into love. What is it that makes us fail (thus far) at finding something we all want so badly?
I don’t think I’m close to finding the golden insight yet but I’m on the journey now and exploring (in the windmills of my mind!) the various reasons that add to the confusion. And, perhaps the adage ‘the path is the goal itself’ holds true here as well.
The stark segregation of the sexes, more so in Indian society, must surely add something to the mix from the very onset of the journey, right? I myself see women as peers going through the same stages of growth (psychological, spiritual) but I’ve never seen men in the same light – never thought of their trajectory being somewhat similar. Pretty sure, my formative years in a convent girls-only school made me see it that way. Thereon, everywhere I’ve been in life, the distance has only grown, taking me so far away from seeing men as the same individuals as myself and my girlfriends – and, I hope now I can undo that.
After school, in the years when it would have been natural for me to be chasing boys or enjoy being chased by them, I had many bad experiences, like many other girls I know, of being treated with grave disrespect by individuals – unfortunately, those individuals were mostly men. Getting into the details of the bad experiences would just make me angry and this piece will run away from me – so let me carry on without doing that. I only recently realized that this collective of bad experiences combined with the segregation theory, with some stereotypes added to the mix have led me to think of men in a certain unbecoming sort of way. This notion of men is the story I have been telling myself. This is perhaps the energy I have been exuding. And, perhaps it is time to drop that story.
Change is the only constant and the only way to survive and survive well is to adapt. I don’t know if everyone sees it that way but I see us (in India) shifting from a society where marriage was the only option to a society where it will become normative for individuals to choose other options too – for both men and women. Not to forget that globally women are becoming more and more equal to men and therefore, marriage isn’t an end goal for every woman. Is the institution of marriage dying? I wouldn’t go that far yet. The farther away from people we get, the more we realize how much we need people and start appreciating societal structures like family, marriage, relationships. Then again, I don’t know what the future holds; whatever it does I’m sure it will be interesting.
On good days, when you’re able to view such ongoing change at a macrocosmic level, it is intriguing, to live in the times that we do. But on not so good days, when your worldview is small and you’re looking at your life alone, going through this period of fire (i.e., the change) – it hurts a little bit. I don’t quite know why though considering I made the choices I made and should be happier for them. Like Murakami wisely said, “don’t feel sorry for yourself, only assholes do that” – I would be an asshole for seeing myself as a victim, for had I wanted it so bad I would have been married by now and perhaps would have had what I am looking for. I did meet someone when I was 24 years of age, a good man who wanted to spend his life with me, to provide for me, to take care of me. But his offer of ‘taking care of me’ hurt my then infantile idea of independence, so I left him, heartbroken for a bit, for another man whom I never got together with. Happy to inform you that they both seem happily married now, and here I am, still trying to figure out what went wrong. Perhaps they were wiser than me and figured it out way before I did; something I didn’t give them credit for when I was with them.
What is this, this thing that needs to be figured out then – to be able to be with someone? I don’t know if it’s an imperative for everyone but it seems to be for me. I feel like I need to go through a period of spiritual growth to be able to drop the imaginary storylines I’ve been building in my head, to create an unconditional friendship with myself and to develop warm-heartedness for everyone around, to be able to make room for anyone else in my life. That’s what a wise 80-year-old man told me one sunny afternoon in a beach town on the southern tip of the country, the fan whirring above us in a room full of books, in an old colonial house. He was a spiritual man but not the kind who forces ideas on you but the kind that seeds a thought in you so potent it grows into a Sequoia tree that takes over your whole being. With a loving serene smile he told me that I had something in me, this potential for spiritual growth – which I wasn’t working on. It didn’t hurt the way he said it. I didn’t understand it when he said it. I’m not following any spiritual group or practice. But I think I understand it today and perhaps all I need to do is work on it internally.
I don’t know if I’ve ended up closer to the golden insight I’m looking for – as to why so many of us are failing at love. I don’t know the answer. The confusion remains. But I think the path is the goal itself, and I have the writer to thank for setting me on it.