To question one’s purpose in life is about as normal of a human activity as one could possibly do. Recently, I had a long and very frank discussion with a girl about how one ought not to rush love and how the right partner will find you. She viewed it as unnatural and unhealthy to expend so much mental energy on women and approaching them. I naturally scoffed, tell that to my 19 year old kissless, hugless and virgin self, I thought to myself. Had I kept doing the exact same thing that I had been doing, I would’ve likely died alone, and very frustrated.
In the words of Woody Allen “eighty percent of success is just showing up” – for years I’d failed to turn up and then one December I decided to show up. Life took a turn for the better after some initial road-bumps. I cannot say with certainty where I would’ve ended up had I not met people who helped me change lanes, but I’m sure that I wouldn’t have gone down a positive road.
After finishing university the other day, I can now pompously call myself an economist. Nowadays, when I go to a social gathering, I will almost be able to hear sphincters nervously clench when asked what I studied, and they hear what I have to say on the matter. I will now see the terror in their hearts when I answer that I profess the trade of Adam Smith, as they hope to god almighty that I don’t talk about inflation or currency exchange rates, or how the Brexit is a stupid idea.
I didn’t get to wear a silly Harry Potter gown, or attend graduation, because I put my degree to good use and calculated that the value (gotten out of essentially paying £80 for a handshake, a boring speech I wouldn’t remember, and a hastily taken photograph) was simply not worth it. Instead, I’ve been travelling with my father and yesterday I showed him Canterbury, the city where I’ve been living in for the last three years.
I showed him the fields where I walked with a lovely girl with whom I was with for a while; I showed him the discount supermarket I used to greedily shop at once a week; I showed him the pigsty that we used to call our student flat; I showed him the campus and all its labyrinthine quirks; I showed him where I took my first salsa classes; and I showed him a coffee shop where I must’ve had well over a dozen dates – I showed him home.
If there’s anywhere that I’ve lived in that I could’ve called “home”, with all the pageantry and positive feelings that are bundled with the word, it was there. Frankly, I did not have a happy upbringing, and it took to well into my adulthood to find the peace and happiness that people seem to ooze from every pore. Nowadays, I know that is mostly an act – a lie they eagerly fan on their social media accounts to promote the cult of themselves. Yet, I was joyless for most of my existence, doubly so when I suspected everyone else was happy except myself. If home is where the heart is, I was homeless for most of my life.
I look at myself in the mirror, I see slight bags underneath my eyes, and on my chest and beard I see a gray hair or two. I’m not an old man, I just turned twenty-three, but much has changed since I first started having political thoughts.
There was a time where I believed that I alone could change the world – I had a messiah complex, to put it mildly. There seemed to be so much suffering in society, yet little seemed to be done about it. What was needed was a revolution to push aside our archaic notions on where our civilization was heading. I spent many hours, thinking and genuinely believing that the time of action was around the corner.
Whilst never a communist, I harboured some affinity to the ideals. I believed that the main reasons such systems had never worked, was because it was always presupposed that people would work out of the goodness in their heart. Technology, I decided, was the key to all this, and if only our society could develop enough of it, we could reach a state of utopia. People would not have to work, and all would be well.
Now, I do still think that automation has the capacity for a society of such wealth and excellence, that none before it could compare. Yet, I’ve grown more humble over time. I have my doubts that I, or for that matter anyone, could artificially design such a society. Some of the most horrible crimes in world history have been made in the name of good intentions, and designing a supposedly better society: from the Maoist “Great Leap Forward”, which killed millions through starvation and scarcity; the Nazis wanting to rid society of what they deemed the dregs of humanity; or the acts of Gavrilo Princep wanting to rid the world of what he believed to be an oppressive system with the Habsburgs in the Balkans, which had WWI as an aftermath, just to name a few.
I think science’s early success in understanding mathematics, physics and the like has given us plenty of arrogance to go along with it. The Enlightenment had the detrimental effect of making us believe that everything was computable, and immediately understandable. This is fine and doable in contained systems where you can isolate the forces, and understand how they behave in relation to each other. It’s a different tale altogether when you’re trying to understand systems that aggregate on the input of each other, and even worse, may react to the information that has been computed so far.
241 – that is a number that at present terrifies me. It’s the number of days that I have on my student visa at the time of writing this article. When the timer runs out, I’ll be kicked out of the UK. For the last 3 years I’ve been happily living in Europe. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to do so, and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s the first time in my life where I feel like I belong somewhere.
I have come to the conclusion that most people do not want to be happy. They say they do, but wallowing in the depths of self pity, paranoia and arbitrary rules is far too fun. Life is simple (you laugh, but it is). You’re born, you exist and you die. That is all there is to it, not content with that beautiful simplicity we make arbitrary rules for our existence. We say that tea has to be made in a certain specific way, rather than just adding hot water and leaves; we say we can’t swim in the pool before an hour has passed after we’ve eaten; we say we can only have dessert after a meal; and we say we can only have sex and love one partner. Just noise, it’s all just noise, and I am tired of it.
This is not how we were meant to live. This is not life. I genuinely believe life is about connections and finding happiness. It’s about exploring who you are via how you interact with your surroundings. Yet we tend to put a barrier between us. I challenge you to go to your local restaurant and see how many people are interacting with a screen rather than with each other, even if they’re supposedly intimate with one another. Sometimes it’s not as overt as having a physical barrier between two people, but it accomplishes the same.
When you’re talking with someone and they invoke their significant other as some sort of higher power to put a break on the interaction, like a lawyer citing article 3 subsection b, despite wanting to continue being around you. I think that’s wrong. I’m not saying that they’re not in their full right to do so, but they do so in spite of thoroughly enjoying you. In other words, they’re deliberately sacrificing their happiness because someone out there has told them that they cannot do so as it would be disrespectful to their significant other, because supposedly you can only be intimate with one person.
If someone truly loves you, would they not want you to be as happy as you can possibly be? Quite frankly, would it not be downright disrespectful and offensive to even suggest that the person you’re with is so insecure that they will treat you like a belonging, and limit what you do with people when they’re not even in the same vicinity? I sincerely don’t get why that should be fine with any rational person. Imagine a friend telling you that from the day you befriended them onwards, you could never have another friend, whilst you still see them. Would you really believe they’re someone worth keeping in your life as a positive influence? Jealous, petty and manipulative are not traits I have on my list for potential lovers. Nevertheless, it has become the default state of affairs due to how the system is organized.
I sincerely rue the day 10,000 years ago when agriculture and property rights made it necessary to start having a monogamous culture. Property rights made it necessary to have clear lines of lineage, to be able to benefit your offspring, rather than someone else’s. Before that, not even STD’s had been a strong enough disincentive to have such a rigid structure. Books like Sex at Dawn make the case that for most of our existence as a species we were “monogamish”, we had a special someone but we were open enough with our partners that they could be with others if they so wished.
Hell, biologically, we’re even built for that sort of environment. Sperm Wars, another great book, explains that men have three types of sperm (most of which doesn’t have the express purpose of impregnating women) :
1. Impregnating sperm
2. Blocking Sperm, essentially deformed sperm, which blocks the canals so that no other extraneous sperm can push through
3. Attacking sperm, which carries a dose of poison to kill other sperm.
If we were never meant to have more than one partner at the same time, why did we ever develop such a fine tuned mechanism to pass on our genes? Finally we also have the largely varying orgasming times for men and women (on average). As if to suggest that women could take on multiple males one after the other. If anything, I think we’ve become a clock that isn’t allowed to tell the time, because it’s supposedly immoral to do so. We truly want to give the time, as we’re built for that purpose, and we feel miserable when we can’t be like that.
The heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it becomes bigger the more it’s exercised. If you succumb to lethargy, then it dies off and it becomes useless. I think love works in the same way. The problems that this “moral” solution tried to solve, have been solved by science and ingenuity. Condoms have virtually eliminated the high risk of most diseases, and there’s cures for a good chunk of the diseases as well. Then, we also have various ways of avoiding unplanned pregnancies, and even if they were to happen, we can be entirely sure of who the father is, we could even abort it if need be.
Monogamy has thus become an outdated concept. However, it’s been so ingrained in us that it is hard to let go. Every song, every book, every movie, every other person has been brainwashed into believing it is their own idea. We think it’s what we want, but then our body and caveman brain scream “NO” in unison, hence why less and less of us in society are deciding on getting married in the first place. Personally, I’ve never had an “official” girlfriend. I’ve always considered making it official, somewhat demeaning to the girl and to myself.
It just seems oddly patronizing, as if to imply that I have a right to a second of their time that they don’t want to give me or vice versa. I operate under a very self admittedly libertarian approach to dating. The second that they find me boring, ordinary, and not worth the time, the door’s there. There’s an analogy that I always like to use in the matter.
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a Coca Cola fan. You love the flavour and you have half a mind to call yourself an addict. Coca Cola doesn’t have to come in the middle of the night, point a gun to your head and tell you that bad things will happen if you drink anything other than Coke. No, it knows perfectly well that tomorrow you might drink Fanta, Sprite or, heaven forbid, Pepsi. Even after having tried the devil’s elixir, you will eventually come back because Coke has shown you enough worth to warrant it.
I think exercising monopoly rights over a person is an insecure person’s game. If you think you’re someone worth having, why do you fear competition? Is it because you realize that they might be too good for you? If you don’t trust the other person in being responsible and using protection, why even be with them in the first place?
This might not come off as a huge shock (what with you being able to read page after page of my ramblings here), but I have a bit of an ego problem. If my ego were a physical object it would’ve long since collapsed into a black hole due to the immense gravitational pressure it had. However, even with that ego, I do not think I am the perfect man. I do not have nearly all the traits a partner could possibly want. So who am I to arbitrarily say that someone should ignore a facet of themselves, because I cannot supply them this trait? I believe that a partner should help you in achieving the greatest heights of happiness, so he should be willing not to be jealous of you fulfilling the needs elsewhere that they can’t supply.
Life would be so beautiful if we helped each other grow, rather than guarding each other like a dragon guarding his hoard. There’s too many things to worry as it is. Let’s not add more to the stack with artificial, inconsequential concerns. Happiness is a choice, and it is up to you to decide to be happy.
Have you ever been in a polyamorous or open relationship? How did it work out?