Wookin’ Pa Nub: Love, Relating, and the Muse

Love sculpture - Robert Indiana -  ShinjukuI love being alone. Wait, that’s not right, I hate being alone. I love solitude. A solitary mind is not alone it is connected with everything. The difference is that there is no one around whose presence alters yours. Zen masters call it aloneness, and it is not lonely, it is full and resonant and whole. Have you ever sat and looked up at the night sky and contemplated the stars and your existence? That is aloneness. Have you ever done it in a crowd or with even one? There is a difference isn’t there? Solitude is where you can project your consciousness out into the universe and sense what is reflected back to you, a sort of echolocation wherein you may find yourself in the deepest sense of the word.

I love solitude, right up to the point that I realize that I am terribly lonely! It’s true we are not islands. We require connection with others as part of our realization of who we are. That realization, and pardon my use of the broadest and therefore most meaningless term we have for it, is Love. Finding it is easy for a fortunate few, but for most of us, not so much.

Allow me to narrow if I can my meaning here with regard to this our most over-encumbered word. The union of souls, there that gets us a bit closer. We might call it romantic love, though sexual intimacy is not a necessary aspect of it, neither is gender.

As this post’s title implies, we are all “wookin’ pa nub”, with a grateful nod to Eddie Murphy’s SNL skit where he plays Buckwheat from “Our Gang” singing pop favorites. Truly, looking for love should never be taken too seriously. If Love eludes us, it is usually for a reason. News flash, it isn’t them, it’s us, and unless we find and escape the patterns we set, we are doomed to repeat our failures.

As for my own farcical search, it has been largely fruitless. It is a sisyphian tragedy, a fable of sorts, but the old kind, with a cruel recurring ending.

For me, the only type of people I truly understand, the ones that fascinate, engage and inspire me are artists; actors, musicians, performers, painters, sculptors, dancers, but with regard to the true union of souls, I had painted myself into a corner from the beginning.

I have always played the role of leader among artists, either as a producer, director, talent booker, or manager. There is a cliché in the theatre about the type of actress who carries on with her director, and this notion extends to my other leadership roles as well. It holds that any woman that takes up with the man in charge is either a mindless tart or a manipulating bitch. (Most directors are content enough with the former, and often fall prey to the latter.) Any good girl is unlikely to put herself in the line of fire of that cliché. They will be too afraid that they will become a target, one suddenly in competition with other women, judged, scrutinized, ostracized. Those fears are phantoms of course, anyone who truly cares about you, who sees you truly happy, will be happy for you. The rest can go hang. But try explaining that to a good girl.

To make matters worse, the only kinds of relationship I value are intimate ones, whatever the type of relationship. I am not an acquaintance kind of guy; I acquire precious few, and very close relationships. When I encounter someone I feel I understand and see clearly, I seek closeness, intimacy. With women (the only way I lean) it doesn’t have to be romantic or sexual, and often it is not, but since I don’t know how to stop seeking intimacy, and refuse to label what I don’t yet understand, there comes a point where I get too close and they don’t know how to let me in. Confusion and fear is the result and they play it safe, turn tail and run. I have been around that block more times than I will admit. This is my pattern, and a trap I still do not fully understand my way out of. It’s either that pattern or not being accessible at all, which is worse.

I wish I liked tarts.

Give up being a leader? No, that won’t work either. Though it sounds special, being in charge is not what it’s cracked up to be. I dislike being a leader, but I lead because the only thing I like less than leading is following. I stand in my painted corner brush in hand.  eyes-6-wallpaper right

Sad to say, I gave up on my failed pattern long ago with no resolution. Disgusted and bruised, I locked away wookin’ pa nub in a trunk, and shoved it under the bed. This time I decided that it was better for me to focus completely on my four-year-old daughter dealing with a newly divided home, than waste my energy on looking for Ms. Goodbar. It was a good decision, but even good decisions have their expiration dates. It has been clear recently that my daughter would benefit from my finding Love as much as I would. So I reached for that dusty old trunk and opened it. When I looked inside I was surprised and deeply moved to see that what I had left there so long ago was EXACTLY THE SAME AS WHEN I LEFT IT! What was I expecting, the problem to solve itself? Time to roll that rock up that hill again Gary, maybe this time it will be different.

In a fit of compassion for my little girl I tried on-line dating. I put up a profile and spent three hilarious days watching pings come in. They couldn’t even wait for a date before they started telling me what to do, how to post, and what I need to do to fulfill their expectations. “No thank you, when I want a girl who is looking for the next stub to blame her misery on I’ll call you.” After three days I scrubbed every bit of it off the Internet. I will put my faith in the Law of Attraction thank you, even if I die alone!

Guys are simple; they are looking for either their mother or a porn star. God forbid their mother was a porn star. Women will too often compromise their truth by settling for less than what they want in order to not be alone. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with that, but they will be dishonest with themselves about their expectations, still hoping for their desire, and end up resenting the fella who is only there to hold space. I submit that there was never a relationship that “failed” where there was real honesty with one’s self and with the other, a true understanding of expectations, and the integrity to follow through on them.

Even the word “relationship” is misleading. It’s a noun. We are not nouns; we are verbs. We are ever evolving and changing things, our relating must also change, evolve, and be new each day. The correct word is relating, the verb; a relationship is something that was, not something that is.

I’m not sure that there is such a thing as a failed relationship. Every relationship, no matter how good or how bad has its gifts. There is always growth and value to them, so how can we call them failures? My biggest peeve is people with a two dimensional view of relating. We are either friends or lovers, lovers or strangers, right or wrong, good or bad for each other. Bunk. There are as many kinds of relating as there are people to relate with. Each one is unique and should not have to fit into our cultural conditioning or confined by common archetypes, values, or morality. As unique as the individuals are, so too is their relating. How much love has been lost in the world because it did not conform to accepted standards, sad.

This understanding can answer some confusing questions about relationships that “didn’t work out.” Some souls enter our orbit, and we theirs, for reasons that we do not fully understand when it happens. The power of their pull and the serendipity of their arrival lead us to assume that these must be lovers sent to us by destiny. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. I call them Doorways, they are captivating, inspiring, and open us up to parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed, and break wide open a sky full of new possibilities. They fill our lives with light. This has to be destined love, right? Maybe not.

We often serve the same purpose for them as well, making it seem impossible that we should not be together, but there always seems to be some block or consequence or taboo that gets in the way of smooth sailing with Doorway people. Yet we are at times gifted with these unlooked for miracles of love for a special and often finite purpose. When their orbits are complete, when we have opened the doorways they offered, and they ours, their trajectories shift away from us. If we failed to understand or accept their true purpose for us, we would believe that we have lost at love, that the relationship had tragically failed, and it can leave us deeply heart broken. These can be deep, mystical, intimate and powerful connections, and for the unaware they can be quite a handful. Just the awareness that there can be lovers in our lives, even ones we never touch, that are not part of the ‘ever after’ myth can be a valuable insight for healing.

Did I mention they hurt? All growth hurts my friends. Never abdicate your happiness in the present for fear that it will end in the future, because guess what, everything has its ending.

eyes-6-wallpaper leftThere is another word used to describe my Doorway people, the ones who inspire us to new heights of achievement and depths of self-insight, it’s an old fashion word used mostly by artists, but anyone can have them, they are called Muses. My advice to you, and trust me on this, because I have encountered them many times, if you are lucky enough to find one, grab them by the hand and run as far and as fast as you can, while you can! The benefits far outweigh the risks. They are precious things, gifts from the Gods, do not run, do not hesitate, dive in, and conscience be damned.

I believe that much of our trouble finding Love has to do with a true understanding of what it is. We shroud it in illusions, some of which are not at all pleasant to release. What we call love is really a whole spectrum of relating. At the primal level, love is sexual attraction. Many of us remain stuck there, because our conditioning has burdened our sexuality with all kinds of expectations and repressions. As our awareness rises, we can begin to experience the love that exists beyond sexuality and honors the unique individuality of the other. We begin to understand that our partner often functions as a mirror, reflecting unseen aspects of our deeper self and supporting us to become whole. This love is based in freedom, not expectation or need.

One magical night you will finally meet your soulmate, that one perfect person who will meet all your needs and fulfill all your dreams. Right? Wrong! This myth that songwriters and poets are so fond of perpetuating has its roots in the womb, where we were so secure and at one with our mothers. We yearn to return to that place, and look for it in others. To put it bluntly and quite brutally, it is a childish dream. Nobody, whether it’s your current mate or some dreamed-of partner in the future, has any obligation to deliver your happiness on a platter, nor could they if they wanted to. Your happiness is self-bestowed. Real love comes not from trying to solve our neediness by depending on another, but by developing our own inner richness and maturity. Then we have so much love to give that we naturally draw lovers towards us. This is what I mean by the Law of Attraction.

Often we are not able to see each other clearly. Each of us may be projecting an image we have constructed in our minds, covering the real face of the person we are looking at. We all get caught up in this sometimes, projecting movies of our own making onto situations and people surrounding us. This happens when we are not fully aware of our own expectations, desires and judgments, instead of taking responsibility for them and owning them, we try to attribute them to others. They are clouds that prevent us from seeing reality as it is. We must recognize the game. Does what you see in others really belong to you? Is your vision clear, or clouded by what you want to see?

What are your definitions of Love? If you don’t have any, then how can you find it? I will share a few of mine that I have found, in case I caught you off guard. My favorite is, to delight in another’s happiness. When you experience bliss in another’s bliss even when it has no connection or benefit to you, chances are that Love connects you.

There is a marvelous story that Joseph Campbell told about two cops trying to talk a man off a bridge who intended to commit suicide. As one cop tried to coax him down from the railing, the man jumped. This cop jumped after him, right over the side himself. He caught the man by his legs as the other cop caught his, saving both of them. The first cop had a family and kids and everything to live for, so why did he throw his own life after a perfect stranger’s? He was asked this afterwards, he struggled for an explanation, and being pressed for how he felt at the instant he jumped after the man, said that it felt as if he was jumping, that he was the man throwing his life away. This is my next definition of Love, a recognition of oneness.

We are all made of the same stuff, we are one, and in extreme moments of clarity this inner knowing shows itself. What is this stuff? This stuff of which we are made is love. It’s not a metaphor; we are actually made of it. We are love. Find someone within whom you can see this truth, and you will have an end to all your fruitless searches.

My sister recently reminded me of what my mother said of love. The next day I was certain I remembered her saying it to me; she probably said it to all her kids. It is indeed the simplest and most profound observation of love I have yet found. She said, “You do not love another person for yourself, you love them for them.” Having a child can teach you that about love, and I know that I love others that way as well. Imagine though, loving another person like this, who loves you in that very same way. That is a true bond of love, and a union of souls.

My mother would also say to me somewhat ruefully, “Gary, you want the world to be a perfect place,” that’s right Ma someone has to. If I ever find a perfect world, it will most likely be in a pair of eyes, one that sees in me what I see in them.

Now that would be something.eyes-6-wallpaper