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The Quest for Intimacy

The Quest For Intimacy

By Chet Shupe

Synopsis

 

Regardless of nationality, ideology, religion, education, or technological prowess, humans the world over want basically the same thing, which is to love and be loved. Yet, we modern humans spend most of our lifetimes pursuing wealth and privilege. Is there a connection between our pursuit of wealth, and our loss of intimacy? To grasp what it is, we need to understand the nature of love.

 

Humans have created a world in which we are each personally responsible for our own future. Having become habituated to that “reality,” we see it as natural. Indeed, how could life work without each individual assuming responsibility for their own future? Yet, no being on earth—human or otherwise—saw itself as being personally responsible for its entire future, until very recently in evolutionary time, around ten to fifteen thousand years ago.

 

Back when we humans lived in intimacy, we lived in the moment. Comfort, support, and security were found in our intimate relationships, not in our ability to realize personal plans, goals and dreams. Now, having created a world in which we are personally responsible for our own futures, we have lost the sense of intimacy and interdependence which our distant ancestors once took for granted, and through which their spiritual needs found complete satisfaction.

 

Can humans, today, regain that sense of oneness with life, in which the wellbeing of those around us is as important to us as our own? I believe we can. But we would have to get past the idea that success is the measure of our ability to control our future. By accumulating wealth, we can control our future regarding material needs—to some extent. But we cannot control our future regarding “spiritual wealth,” by flimsy abstractions, such as promises of undying love:

 

Love is an expression of the soul. It is not subject to promises. It is our reward for being true to life in our immediate relationships. Love lives in the moment, or it doesn’t live at all.

 

Subtitles

Love Lives in the Moment, or it Doesn’t Live at All

Intimacy on the Field of Battle

Life’s Meaning is Known Through Feelings, Not Reason

Our Natural Destiny is to Love and Be Loved

The Exclusion Principle

About the Author

Other Books by Chet Shupe

Contact Chet Shupe

 

 

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As the state of human affairs becomes increasingly burdened with conflict and strife, we hear more people say: “Everyone wants basically the same thing. So why can’t we somehow just get along?” If we all want the same thing, what is it that everyone wants? Were we to ask people if they would prefer to live a life of wealth and privilege, or one in which they loved and were being loved, most would probably choose the latter. And yet, we spend most of our time on earth pursuing wealth and privilege—whether we succeed or not. Could the likelihood that we are pursuing what we don’t really want have something to do with why we can’t seem to get along?

Love Lives in the Moment, or it Doesn’t Live at All

Where does our desire to love and be loved come from? We weren’t taught that we need it when we were in school. And most people haven’t learned about love from experience. Quite the opposite. In our increasingly alienated world, loneliness, not love, seems to be the order of the day. If we haven’t been taught that we need love, and we haven’t learned about it from experience, then we must be born with the need to love and be loved.

Are animals born with the same need? Do dogs, wolves, horses, beavers, lions, gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants need love? We can’t ask them, so there is no way to really know. But, behavior reveals a lot. I would guess that most people who have spent time with those animals would agree that they share our need for love.

Are animals getting what they need? Well, a caged gorilla isn’t able to love or be loved. And body language experts could probably detect its state of distress in its behavior. But the ones who yet live in the wild probably have all the opportunities they need to fulfill their desire to love and be loved. This is a hypothetical proposition, but, what if we asked the animals whether they preferred wealth and privilege to loving and being loved? I think they would likely choose love. If I am right, regarding the matter of love, we are like the animals. The difference is, they are getting what they want, and we aren’t. And body language experts could probably detect our state of distress in our behavior.

Why are the animals experiencing love, and we aren’t? It’s not that we never experience it. A mother experiences love when attending to the needs of her child. During romantic involvements, couples experience love. And we love our pets. Based on these examples, there are three observations we can make about love. First of all, love is not something we choose. It happens to us. Mothers, even ones who have achieved fame, speak of motherhood as being the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to them. Romantic love is also a happening. The lyrics to Richard Roger’s, “Some Enchanted Evening” say it well: “You may see a stranger, from across a crowded room, and somehow you know, you know even then, that somehow you will see her, again and again.” Regarding our pets, we can’t choose not to love them, which reveals that love is beyond our control. The point is that in every instance of love, it is a happening, not a choice.

Love is a response to the situation at hand—it lives in the moment. Of course we might experience the anticipation of a romantic involvement, as well as fondly remember one. But these are not the actual experience. And promises of love undying remove us from the moment. The reason we love our pets so freely is that our love has no promises attached. That is the only way to keep any relationship an in-the-moment experience. And, because we have promised our pets nothing, our love for them is an in-the-moment experience. Promising them nothing frees us to be honest in our relationships. We can even be angry with them. Being angry is an event of the moment. It breaks no promise, and leaves the love untouched.

When we promise love, we are presuming that we will forever feel the same as when the promise was made. This takes us out of the moment, turns us into pretenders. How can we be close to anyone, when we can’t be honest about how we feel? Love lives in the moment, or it doesn’t live at all.

And finally, love, regardless of what kind—motherly, romantic, brotherly, sisterly, or our love for our pets—is beyond verbal description. Think of trying to describe romance to someone who has never experienced it. They would think you’re crazy! Not only is the experience indescribable, the words “I love you” can neither make love happen, nor can they keep a waning romance alive. The feeling is either there or it isn’t. Words are beside the point.

Man Eden—Intimacy on the Field of Battle

Modern humans know about motherly love, romantic love, and love for our pets, because we have experienced them. But very few people who are alive today have experienced brotherly or sisterly love, because the common ground required for this kind of love no longer exists. The conditions for brotherly love, however, are sometimes present on the field of battle. Though words can’t describe it, let’s consider what occurs in the lives of men who have experienced brotherly love. I refer to the work of photojournalist Tim Hetherington, a wartime correspondent who spent a year filming American soldiers at a remote outpost in Afghanistan for his documentary, “Restrepo.” Throughout his career, Tim’s particular interest was to study the relationships among men on the field of battle.

Following are quotes from the film, “Restrepo:”

Tim: One of the pictures that I really like is what I call my kind of “Man-Eden” picture. It really isn’t like a kind of war photograph. It’s a very pastoral scene to it. It kind of brings up ideas of medieval paintings and it kind of indicated that the work was going in another direction. As I stayed on, then I started to make the more kind of nuanced pictures about men and war and these kind of relationships.

The lure of a place like Restrepo inhabits a much more profound place in young men than just, “oh, I need some adrenaline.” Tim called it “The Man Eden.” It was just sort of for the young male psyche that this was an easy place to be.

***

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The Quest for Intimacy

Regardless of nationality, ideology, religion, education, or technological prowess, humans the world over want basically the same thing, which is to love and be loved. Yet, we modern humans spend most of our lifetimes pursuing wealth and privilege. Is there a connection between our pursuit of wealth, and our loss of intimacy? To grasp what it is, we need to understand the nature of love. Humans have created a world in which we are each personally responsible for our own future. Having become habituated to that “reality,” we see it as natural. Indeed, how could life work without each individual assuming responsibility for their own future? Yet, no being on earth—human or otherwise—saw itself as being personally responsible for its entire future, until very recently in evolutionary time, around ten to fifteen thousand years ago. Back when we humans lived in intimacy, we lived in the moment. Comfort, support, and security were found in our intimate relationships, not in our ability to realize personal plans, goals and dreams. Now, having created a world in which we are personally responsible for our own futures, we have lost the sense of intimacy and interdependence which our distant ancestors once took for granted, and through which their spiritual needs found complete satisfaction. Can humans, today, regain that sense of oneness with life, in which the wellbeing of those around us is as important to us as our own? I believe we can. But we would have to get past the idea that success is the measure of our ability to control our future. By accumulating wealth, we can control our future regarding material needs—to some extent. But we cannot control our future regarding “spiritual wealth,” by flimsy abstractions, such as promises of undying love: Love is an expression of the soul. It is not subject to promises. It is our reward for being true to life in our immediate relationships. Love lives in the moment, or it doesn’t live at all.

  • ISBN: 9781310130427
  • Author: Chet Shupe
  • Published: 2016-09-23 21:20:21
  • Words: 3821
The Quest for Intimacy The Quest for Intimacy