Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reflections on Love and Cheating

I wrote the majority of this in response to someone on another forum who was cheating on her husband and wanted the on-line community to tell her it was okay.

What follows is a slightly edited version of my response.

Wow - I missed a huge thread. I kinda wish I had followed it from the beginning to insert my pithy comments filled with the wisdom of my years.

But I will add some now - and not even so much on how I think it is always wrong to cheat (and for me that includes e-cheating as well - - - physical cheating, emotional cheating, online cheating - its all cheating)

Early on someone said that you don't choose who you fall in love with. I mentioned this in another post - but I think that's dead wrong. Love is a choice. Let me set that off in its own little paragraph:

Love is a choice.

See. Looks important there all by itself. We do not choose whom we have a chemical attraction to. We do not choose infatuation or lust. But love is not just a feeling it is an action - predicated on an intense desire to both be with a person, to be committed to that person, and to want what is best for that person. We choose to love - and when the rough times appear that choice carries you through them.
Cheating is not love. It is selfish and predicated on lust. It is dishonest to all involved parties and no relationship can be built on dishonesty.

(I guess I will talk about cheating after-all)

No one, unless certifiably mentally ill, does anything without thinking about it first. This is why Jesus said that to lust after a woman is to commit adultery in your heart. Even if you don't believe in Christianity, the essence is the same. You don't cheat on someone or with someone without first thinking it through. It is at this stage that self-mastery comes into play. If you can't learn to control your thoughts and your emotions then you are weak. If you learn control then you are strong. All forms of strength and weakness are derived from this.
Do people make mistakes? They surely do.

But if you cheat it is a hell of your own making. Am I perfect - we know that I am not. Being mortal entails fallibility.

But this goes back once more to why love is a choice. Make up your mind ahead of time that you will love a person. Decide what you will do when faced with situations which might disrupt or cause harm to your relationship or that person.

I am thousands of miles away from my wife, surrounded by Chinese girls who are attracted to Americans because they are American (especially if they are white). I am bored and lonely as hell - but I avoid any situations which I feel might compromise my integrity.

I made a choice. Does that make me self-righteous?

You are free to think so. I do not believe I am better than you (any who are reading this). But I do believe that I am correct in these assertions.

I do not believe that love is fate. Nor is it chemistry. Both of those can help a person meet and have initial attraction.

I believe love to be a choice. For some this seems like it would be coldly calculating (and maybe sometimes it is) - but I believe that most relationships fail because they do not realize that as the newness fades they never actually decided to love each other.

If you choose to love someone - behave in accordance to that love. When rough times come (and they will, and if you stay through them they go away . . . and then come back) you can be prepared with your choice to keep loving that person, even if sometimes you feel you don't want to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Trestle

I grew up (if that is ever something that can be considered past tense) at the trestle. Or maybe at the Trestle. I wasn’t even one-hundred percent sure what one was until I wikipedia’ed it a moment ago. I won’t save you the time – look it up yourself if you don’t know. Funny how we name things after their lack, though. There was long since no trestle there. Just a deep creek bed, steep dirt hills, perhaps a wooden post or three, and the ever-exciting chance of finding a railroad spike. Or a horseshoe, but those really had little to do with the trestle.

Washington, so I had been told and have never felt inclined to think otherwise, was once a hub of sorts for the railway industry – which makes sense since the only industrial area of town makes train wheels or something (it’s a bit of a mystery and quite possible that they kill people, especially children, who investigate further – I know because I think they chased Tony and me off their lot once). And by hub I mean trains probably stopped there at one point and by industry I mean corn and pumpkins. And train wheels of course.

The Trestle (I think I like it this way better) was our playground, our fortress, our half-pipe and bike stunt-ground. And I am fairly certain that the other side – which was incredibly steep, had a path which ran all the way to Canada. I have no sense of direction and I was too young and/ or small to scale its eastern (western, northern, southern?) bank, but I have it on good authority that it was clear sailing forever on that other side. I seem to recall Aaron going up there and trying out some skateboarding maneuvers ramping back down, which is in itself a feat as the Trestle walls weren’t exactly smooth.

I can’t remember Alex ever coming along. But we lived on Church Street then, in the house where we never stopped finding bb’s from the previous tenants’ kids who shot the hell out of the ceiling in the bedroom. If it was on Church Street Alex would have been too young to go to the Trestle. I was too young to go to the Trestle, but got to tag along anyway. I don’t know why, can’t have been more than 5 years old, but being the fifth son Mom got a little more relaxed on worrying about us. We’d often come home a bit bloody, small pieces of gravel buckshot-embedded in our skin from whichever recent (awesome) wipeout. She would pretty much just toss us a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and tell us to clean ourselves up. It’s not that she didn’t care – she did – but that she had just grown accustomed to our little ‘mishaps’ and knew that they usually weren’t very serious.

I never biked the Trestle – though I eventually did have a Ross Snapper that was pretty sweet – birthday present from my brothers I think. That bike had one hell of a heavy frame – now bikes are all titanium-alloys or airplane aluminum or adamantium or something – I think the Snapper was cast iron. But I was much too young to try the ‘half pipe’ of dirt and rock and the occasional railroad spike. Not Aaron though – nor Abram too. What made things the best though, was during these few years there was a horrible drought – it’s when I first learned what a drought was – so the creek bed was always dried up. Some days we would explore the length of the creek instead of just going up and down the sides of the Trestle. We could follow that thing all the way to the Buntings in one direction or to Paradise (the creek swimming hole with a rope swing most accessible through the cemetery) in the other.

The best part of it was, though, that my brothers never made me feel like I was just tagging along – when I know now that I had to have been. I want to go back sometime, but I don’t know if I should. The walls probably aren’t nearly so steep anymore, the railroad spikes have probably all been found. There might be some horseshoes still but those really have nothing to do with the Trestle. I could go back, but the Trestle wouldn’t be there. Of course, it was never really there to begin with, at least, not in anyone living’s memory. But we could sit at the bottom and imagine the trains going by – straight over and across the steep cliffs – along a path that probably went all the way to Canada.
Or maybe Bloomington.

Monday, December 8, 2008


There is a story in China about a man and his wife who were forced to be separated. Before they parted, they took a mirror and divided it into two pieces (mirrors weren't usually glass back then and was most likely bronze). They agreed to try and find each other at a certain time in a market.

The man showed up at the market and found his wife's mirror but no wife. Because of strife with war, she had been taken into the house of the conquering army's general, who hoped to woo her. The husband scratched a poem onto the mirror to let his wife know that he was alive and still loved her. When she read the poem she cried tears of both happiness and sadness, joy and despair, for though she rejoiced that he was unharmed, she saw no way out of her current predicament.

However, the general (who really wasn't that bad a guy), saw that she was sad and discovered the whole story. Moved by their love and fidelity, he arranged for the couple to be rejoined.

The phrase, a broken mirror joined anew is used thus to describe a couple who has been parted and then reunited with each other.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wergild (2) . . . . written over four years after the first

fat belly-house, left alone tonight
today and probably tomorrow
thoughts of late hemorrhagic fever
coupled with rising water pressure
leave little left for restful nights

there are none to offer advice
save the lipstick sages who taught (teach)
love is a trap and your house a prison
freedom is a personal choice, but never
decisions are
confused with results
tomorrow will have breath and steps and

the scraped emptiness is only for today
tomorrow is forever

two empty beds in the house of the house
no one sleeps there anymore
sleep is a luxury for the living
empty belly-house cries in the corner

the cavernous hole mourns its loss
tomorrow it will be filled
tomorrow is forever

Will she hear me as we sleep,
Or has the past been buried under
Years quilted of pain?
Every night she cries and cries
Out, while closed eyes glimpse
Visions I'm unable to perceive.
Morning brings no answers,
But damp pillows left the sign
Of lost dreams before the dawning light.

Will she hear me? As we sleep,
Somnifacient plans stir memories
That tell me how to reach her.
Tonight, I'll solve the mystery
Of our dreams, and say what
Dreaming, I wish I'd long since said.

Will she hear me as we sleep
Tonight? Will she finally see all
I've longed to say; all we've longed to love?

Will she hear me as we sleep?

the print was made by Meredith
she has always heard me

Wergild (1)

Murky gray lights paint an unrequested
Picture of regrettable inconvenience.
Justifiable actions leave septic residues
That tense muscles are unable to wipe
Away from impending contractions.

What fearsome creatures are born
From midnight raids on honor!
Still incapable of independent malice,
They endanger there mother's mere
By existing in hemorrhagic innocence.

Cold hands are guided by sterile emotions
Hidden behind a mask of professionalism.
Sedated memories fail to notice that while
Scraping clean a softening past,
Dilations stretch now into a lifetime.

Waking to the empty reality of unalterable
Decisions, the price has been paid,
But never in full. Casual comforts do little
Against the rising of bile-tinged regrets or the
Bitter tears expelled with breaths never taken.

a Series of Titles

I often find myself using the same title from a poem again and again. I love titles and never quite seem to get all the mileage out of them that I feel they deserve. "in the Center" is one such title. For those who know, China in Chinese means the middle country, or sometimes, the center country. What I've just posted are four entries (all of them to date) written during my Chinese classes here in Shanghai.

Lethe, Wergild, and the two-fold titular Treading Watercolors are others that have been recurring dreams for me. I hope you enjoy.

And if you don't, I hope then that you find someone else's verse to brighten (or darken) your day.