Today is Tomorrow’s Memory

Nothing in life is guaranteed,

I would never expect it to be.

Present knowledge

Is future foolishness.

A professed love

Soon turns to bitterness.

Beautiful dreams –

Dreamt in a sleep state of mind

Become the nightmares of reality,

Rude, consuming and blind.

Two opposing forces –

Today and tomorrow,

One full of hope

The other drowned in sorrow.

One Character I Hate

The lack of any single positive male character in “In Camera” gave me pause.  I am sure that El Saadawi intentionally crafted the story in order to emphasis the differences in the gender discrimination in that part of the world.  I am quite alright with that.  However, the character of the father truly disgusted me to no end.

I am not a feminist and I speak as a man who has embraced the societal gender codes and norms.  It is my heart’s conviction that a man who has a family should be a husband, father, comforter, provider, protector, liberator, teacher, instructor, judge, jury, and voice of reason.

This piece of human waste characterized in the story does not represent any of what I hold to be the basic tenets of being a man.  He is the exact opposite.

As the story is revealed and we see the brutalization and oppression of Leila, the father is no where to be found.  It is the mother who is Leila’s comforter and protector after she is savagely attacked.  It is the mother who stands guard and holds and consoles Leila and reassures her.  And after Leila was imprisoned it was her mother who visited her and brought her some peace.  And while in the courtroom Leila looked for her mother and desired the smell of her milk.

The father was not there when Leila was raped and did not protect her from the men who brutalized her.  When she was in prison he did not come to see and comfort her and offer her a sense of hope and belonging.  Neither did he comfort his wife and reassure her that everything would be alright.

I almost could not believe it when in the courtroom and the audience started applauding for Leila that the father wanted to join in her heroism.  Her heroism!  Not only was he not a hero he was not even brave enough to stand up and acknowledge to the courtroom and world who he is.  He is less than a coward.

The worst part is that at the end of the day he is more concerned that HIS reputation had been tarnished by the brutal rape of his daughter.  He was more concerned about what people said about him than the welfare and well being of his family.  Un – frigging – believable!

He is not a father.  He is not a husband.  He is not a man.  I will not dignify him by allowing him to have a name.

If It Ain’t a Love Story …..

Why would I think that “Love in a Fallen City” isn’t a love story and If it is isn’t a love story then what the heck do I think that it is about?

The main reason that I know that it is not a love story because it is so formulaic a love story that it couldn’t be.  What?  Chang delivers this story in such a tightly sealed package that any reader is powerless but to be immersed in the story: rooting for Liusu and hoping that Liuyuan will marry her and they will live happily ever after.  That is exactly what Chang wanted the reader to do – swallow the story: hook, line and sinker.  But she is way smarter than that.  She knows, just like every wise parents know, that in order to get children to swallow their medicine it is best given with something sweet and which will mask its true intent.

The story is about Liusu, not the relationship.  (Liuyuan is just part of the vehicle that Chang uses to take the reader on the ride.)

This is a story about freedom from imprisonment.  This is about transition.  This is about transformation.  This is about redemption.  This is about renewal. This is about salvation.  This is about liberation.  This is about death and life.  This is about purpose.  This is about truth as opposed to lies and slander.  This is about being true to one’s self.

“Love in a Fallen City” is about all of these things and the love part is merely the road that Chang chose for us to ride on to really see this.

I Don’t Need No Stinking Love Story

Love stories be damned!  American literature and western art is full of love stories and people can not get enough of them.  The uneducated as well as educated gobble them up with an insatiable appetite and unquenchable thirst.  Unfortunately, for the most part they are just lies and delusions.

Here’s the formula: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl have to overcome a great obstacle in order to be together, boy and girl get married, boy and girl live happily ever after.

What a load of crap!

That is not reality.  If it were then more than 50% of American marriages would not end in divorce, nor would there be single family homes or an immeasurable amount of teenage pregnancies.  No, the reality is that the Great American Love Story is really the Great American Lie Story.  And the sad thing is that so many people, especially young women, fall into this deception.

It seems that many people really believe in the Cinderella story – even whores.  Recently, I was forced to watched “Pretty Woman,” where this rich guy, played by Richard Gere, falls in love with a hooker, played by Julia Roberts.  There was a reason I never watched this movie before.  It just isn’t sensible.  Accomplished rich guys usually get that way because they are sensible and hookers usually are hookers because at the time that is the one practical thing that they can do.  (Not too much striving for the common street hooker. Now, the thousand dollar a night hooker might be a slightly different story.)  In the most extreme sense (and we are looking at extremes) the two types generally don’t jell well together because sensibility focuses on the long term while practicality is basically about today.  And furthermore, both professions demand a very high level of apathy and cold heartedness.  So, in that situation, love in the long run is not at all practical or probable.

The movie was full of crap!

Do you know what real love is?  Real love is looking at your wife, who has gained 40 pounds after the birth of your third child, laying on the couch eating honey buns and Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, and you DECIDE to rub her feet and say something very beautiful in order to make her blush like a teenager.  Or when you see your once athletic husband shuffling around in his boxer underwear, scratching his butt, and you DECIDE to grab him around his waist and say to him, “Here is my hero!”

Even though the feeling of emotional love has its place, it is not the sole determinant of “Love.”  Love is series of actions that make up events that make up a relationship.  Not every action might be perceived as a “good-feeling” one, but as long as it moves the relationship in a positive direction then it can be classified as an act of love.

One of my most favorite love stories is “Jane Eyre.”  It is not your Cinderella story, but involves a relationship between flawed individuals.  What most impressed about the story was at the end when Jane Eyre tells Rochester how his love for her will wane after years but that they will still remain together as a couple.  This is the one true definition of a love story that I have read.

 

I Did Not Feel Like a Man

I was 12 years old the first time that I ever held a gun and I will never forget it.  I did not feel like a man.

An older friend of mine named Reginald told me and my older brother that he had a gun and asked us if we wanted to see it and shoot it.  I was really scared, but my brother was fascinated with the thought of holding and firing a gun.  I put on my older, brave face and said that I was “down.”  We went up to the roof of Reginald’s building and each and every step that I took up that stairwell made me more fearful.  But I was excited too.

Reginald took out the .38 “snub nose” from his pocket and showed it to us.  I held it in my hand and a feeling of fear and excitement swept over me.  It was heavier and smaller than I imagined.  But the one thought that would not escape me was that this gun was an instrument of death.  In my mind the only logical conclusion to gun possession was murder and mayhem.  I was scared, as should a 12 year old be.

Reginald took the gun, pointed it in the air (at an angle), stiff armed, and turned his head to the ground and fired.  ”Crack!”  (Actual gun fire does not sound like the movies.)  It was impressive.  We stood in awe for a moment.  Fear continued to grip me.  Somebody said to look over the side of the roof and see if there were any police.  Thank God that there were police in the area and we decided to go downstairs.  I can not convey how relieved I was to get out of the building that day.  I was no closer to becoming a man than when I first trekked up those stairs.

In retrospect I think that at the time I was more of a man than Dave in Wright’s “The Man Who was almost a Man.”  He felt like the only thing that could get him respect and freedom was to own and wield a gun.  He didn’t realize that this external item would not change who he was but only what he possessed.  Had he realized that he needed to change himself in order to become a man then it would have saved him a lot of mental anguish.  He would have come to realize that manhood comes from realizing and accepting responsibility for one’s actions and that people respect dignity and honor, not cowardice and immaturity.

I don’t need a gun to be a man because I am going to live and die on my own merits.

 

What do men really want?

When I read Eileen Chang’s “Love in a Fallen City,” I wasn’t so sure if it could really be classified as a love story as not.  Maybe in a traditional sense it would be, but if one was to really analyze the character of Liusu, that designation might not be as straightforward.  In my estimation it is more of a story of self actualization and redemption and the love story is merely the vehicle that Chang uses to take the reader on that ride.

Be that as it may, I found myself really concerned with the character Liuyuan’s intention for Liusu.  Actually his intention for Liusu was just a manifestation of what was going on in his mind and me being a man, I am cognizant that he and I share some mental machinations. When I was in high school I hoped to be married to the “traditional” type of wife who would bare me five sons.  My desires changed and I actually considered marrying someone who gave me more problems than I care to think about.  I passed over many “right” girls, which pained me to no end.  I then wanted the most pure and holiest woman, without spot or blemish – but that wasn’t too feasible or realistic and I abandoned that idea.  Then I came to the realization that the primary reason for marriage is for companionship and that I needed someone who I could share my life with and who I could be me with.

Liusu makes the declaration that men concern themselves with trying to turn good girls bad and then try to take bad girls and make them good.  I guess that I have been there and done that and it doesn’t work.  So I am glad that Liuyuan did the correct thing and married Liusu – even though that wasn’t even the real meaning of the story.

 

Boundless

These four walls bind me

but I am elsewhere.

These four walls control me

but my mind is elsewhere.

These four walls crush me

but my spirit is elsewhere.

How can solid concrete

stop me from being

the creation that I am?

How can cement and plaster

stop my mind

from expanding and creating?

Can iron and steel stop

God’s Spirit and mine from connecting?

I am here,

but you can not

make me one inch taller or two inches wider.

I am here,

but my mind runs free

through the sky and my thoughts dance on clouds.

I am here,

but God’s love warms me

and I continually bow before Him

only.

I stand before you.

The Flower

A life potential seed

had I ignored for far too long.

The seed plants itself because it must,

Nature has called it to beautify.

The seed sprouts and I take notice.
The Green of youth and the Red of blood-

A Rose is born.

The bulb is perfected,

its fragrance delectable.

I love the Rose but it can not love me back.

It quickens my spirit, but it can not sense it.

I water it, caress it and nurture it

but it will not bloom for Me.

It will not bloom for Me.

The redolence controls me,

yet I can not see it in its full radiance.

I bow down to it and it falls the other way.

I love the Flower

but it will not bloom for Me.

It will not bloom for Me.

 

The Real Punishment is …..

When I was first asked whether justice was done in Tagore’s “Punishment,” my initial reaction was that it was not done because the wife had not killed the elder brother’s wife, the elder brother did.  However, from a spiritual point of view, now I think that Justice was done.

The Bible, in establishing marriage, says that a man will leave his mother and father and will cleave to his wife and the two will become one.  The two will become one.  No longer is the man’s life his own, but it belongs to his wife and the same for the wife.

The dilemma in “Punishment” shows how little the younger brother considered his wife’s life, and therefore his own, according to biblical standards.  His initial reaction was that he could always get another wife but not another brother.  While that may be technically correct, it is morally incorrect.  Had the brother correctly assessed his wife’s part in his own life – as being part of himself – then he would have known that for him to put her in jeopardy would be the equivalent of putting his own life in jeopardy.

One of the characteristics of being a husband is being a protector of your wife and family.  Neither brother did that.  In fact, both of the brothers killed their wives.  Killed them without thinking about it and then were remorseful after the fact.  However, both of the brothers should have been executed.  The elder for killing his wife and the younger for bearing false accusations against his.

Justice is served in “Punishment” if each brother – as the younger wife aptly put it – goes to Hell.

 

Growth Pains – Really?

Growth Pains

Beat me, bludgeon me,

bash me and bruise me.

Curse me to my face.

I love it when you hurt me.

Kick me and stomp me,

punch me with all of your might.

Whip me, scourge me.

It feels so good

when that hammer breaks my bones.

My charred flesh smells so divine

when you burn me raw.

Stab me, stab me, stab me!

I can’t walk away from you -

I have lost too much blood.

The stick cracking my head

sounds like the pop of champagne

ready to be drunk by two lovers.

The blood covers my eyes,

all my misconceptions disappear.

I love you so much.

I came across this poem and decided to put it into this blog because it is extremely straight forward and I think that the imagery evokes pains in the every day life that people must endure to grow.  The author seems to be addressing a particular entity and could be a person or the abstract item of the pain itself.