Monday, March 22, 2004

Genesis 2:18

One of the things I sometimes do, when I'm sitting in church with the Grandmother, is to pick up a Bible and flip through it. Some of those Old Testament stories are a hoot... like a certain Jezebel who was tossed out of a window (or defenestrated, if you prefer) and was eaten by dogs, and nothing was left of her but her hands, feet, and skull (II Kings, a book as bloody as a Mel Gibson movie, verses 30-37). Why those particular parts, I can't imagine, which makes the Old Testament so entertaining for me.

Something that occurred to me yesterday, though, is that I have never really studied the philosophies of the Old Testament, having solely focused on the gothic tales of macabre deaths and the counterarguments about homosexuality that I love to throw in people's faces (all that business about abominations and proscriptions, it's a maze of modern hypocrisy). So I was thinking about maybe wandering through the Psalms and Proverbs sections and seeing if I could glean some ancient wisdom from them.

But instead I looked at Genesis, studying an argument I'd recently heard where it was posited that the order of Creation in Genesis follows very closely with the order of Evolution from the Big Bang to the Stone Age, but with symbolic or mythical representations rather than scientific theories. So I was following along with the division of the light from the dark (the Big Bang or the birth of the Sun) and the earth from the sky (formation of the planets) and the sea from land (emergence of the continents), the birds and sea-creatures preceding the land animals, and the only jarring note was the creation of lights in the sky after the creation of vegetation (though it is possible that the stars were not visible from the surface at that time, perhaps there was a cloud-cover, though the sun must have been if there was vegetation).

And then you get to the creation of the Garden, and all the talk about rivers and whatnot, and the tempting trees that you're not supposed to eat of, and here comes Adam, who takes care of things and names them... now, this is something that I always found interesting: Adam named things (that is, created language) when he had nobody to talk to except God, which raises the question of why God didn't name the things He created.

Well, all that's nothing but lead-up to what I was planning to talk about in the first place (like my favorite University English essay, on flower symbolism in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which I placed my thesis statement on the fifth page of a twelve-page paper): the passage cited in the title, "It is not good that the man should be alone." It started me off thinking about solitude and loneliness, and whether or not it is a good thing.

I, like many people, value my solitude but hate loneliness. I enjoy spending time by myself in certain pursuits, I love having a personal space arranged to my liking where I can be alone, I am adamant about having certain times and activities to myself; on the other hand, I love spending time with friends and sometimes even my family, I love sharing my personal space with a select few, and find certain places and activities insupportable without company.

That's all very straightforward; but what makes it difficult is the unexpected or apparently irrational feelings attached to a moment or activity that change one's aloneness to either solitude or loneliness. For example, if I go to a party by myself, I feel lonely... even though I'm at a party, with a lot of other people, some or many of whom are my friends. But for some reason, the arriving alone and leaving alone makes the whole thing feel lonely. On the other hand, sleeping alone is never lonely, it is my most valued solitude; I hate having another person in the room with me, much less in the same bed, when I'm sleeping, even if I just had sex with him. I certainly like a nice cuddle after the act (or at least I remember it so, it's been such a long time my view might have become warped), but I find it very difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep with another person there.

So what is it that makes a moment feel like loneliness or like solitude? My expectations? My physical needs? Forces of habit? Some weird combination of the three? I don't know. But I am beginning to understand the point of mating: that other person who will be there when you need another person there, and for whom you can be there when s/he needs someone, and who you are comfortable having in the places where you usually demand solitude. And yet, I still fear letting another person into my solitude and nevertheless feeling lonely; and so I place my solitude at a premium and accept loneliness as its price. But for how much longer? I wonder.

And while I'm wondering about that, I'll leave you with this:

No comments:

Post a Comment