I can always tell how a plane is going to land based on how fast it's going when we approach the landing. I can feel it in my bones. I just know. I can tell if the pilot is going too fast or if he's at the right speed - and whether the outcome will be a bumpy or a smooth one.
I've spent the last few days on a beach because I reckoned that if the Mayans were right and we all have less than 1 month left on earth, the least I could do was enjoy some if it. One of my favourite things in this entire world is the ocean... everyone knows that already. I nearly drowned a few times in my life, but I still love the ocean. And while I'm a good swimmer, I never take it (the sea) for granted.
Unlike land, which seems less threatening, the sea and its volatile waves never let you forget who's the boss. It's honest that way. And still, no matter what, it remains utterly beautiful in all its glory. I'm always a little sad to leave, I'm one of those people who never want to come home from a holiday, but I have indeed returned... with sun-kissed baby soft skin and a soothed soul.
Everyone I know has read Fifty Shades of Grey... friends, cousins, sisters, colleagues... everyone, except me. However, knowing the outline of the book that has had everyone talking for the past 6 months - following the deepening relationship between a neurotic woman and a psychologically scarred man and their sado-masochistic sexual antics - hasn't motivated me to get started.
See, it all began a few months ago while I was watching the hilariously corny over-dramatic movie, Moonstruck, with Mother for the 6528th time. And it was these lines that struck and stuck:
Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and DIE. The storybooks are bullshit! ~ Nicolas Cage as Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck.
For the first 4379 times, these lines resonated. I mean, it's so poetic innit. But then, there was one day, the 4380th time, when I had one of my epiphanies and thought, really? And I never thought it poetic since. I don't know when exactly was it that mankind began equating love with pain. There's this notion that if we don't endure that exquisite pain of "love" for some unknown greater sacrificial purpose, that we'll never know real love, or that the relationship is not worth having.
What is it about this sad, tragic, self-sacrificing martyrdom in the pursuit of affection that motivates people? Are we supposed to buy into this idea that we're all just lambs waiting to be slaughtered by Cupid's machete, and more importantly, why is it that we think that it can only be real love when it hurts?
I asked myself all these questions and could only come to the answer that pain, in whatever form - physical, mental, emotional - is still pain. And by pure logic, the true nature of love cannot and should not hurt on any level... because love in its purest form is associated with warmth and healing and butterflies and rainbows... not whips and chains and cheating and playing games.
Biologically speaking, these masochistic tendencies can be understood because the sensations of pain and pleasure are both processed by the Lymbic System - essentially following the same pathway to the brain. So it's quite possible to get your emotions crossed.
But psychologically? What's the excuse? The bad boy with redeemable qualities is a catch because every woman wants to save him... but it gets old and where do we draw the line?
The thing that concerns me the most about novels like 50 Shades; that glorify and glamourize dysfunctional people and their relationships; is that while it's all fine and dandy for shock and entertainment value, it poses quite a threat to those young, insecure, impressionable teens that begin to think that this kind of relationship is normal.
And yes, normal is relative. But again, where do we draw the line? How do we set boundaries in a society where morals and values are questionable and everyone is driven to test and push those boundaries? At what point will we stop and say, this isn't acceptable, not even in the name of fashion. Because if that is the case, then there is nothing to stop us from skinning kittens to make handbags and stuffing dolphins to be mounted on our walls. There does indeed come a point, when normal is just plain fucked up and has to stop.
Anyways, I highly recommend another novel - Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho - to all those who have read 50 Shades of Grey. It is a kind of Antithesis to the 50 Shades trilogy and makes some solid and convincing arguments on the nature of love and pain:
Maria: "I need to understand about pain".
Ralf: 'You experienced pain yesterday and you discovered that it led to pleasure. You experienced it today and found peace. That's why I'm telling you: don't get used to it, because it's very easy to become habituated; it's a very powerful drug. It's in our daily lives, in our hidden suffering, in the sacrifices we make, blaming love for the destruction of our dreams.Pain is frightening when it shows its real face, but it's seductive when it comes disguised as sacrifice or self-denial. Or cowardice. However much we may reject it, we human beings always find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives'.
Maria: 'I don't believe that. No one wants to suffer'.
Ralf: 'If you think you can live without suffering, that's a great step forward, but don't imagine that other people will understand you. True, no one wants to suffer, and yet nearly everyone seeks out pain and sacrifice, and then they feel justified, pure, deserving of the respect of their children, husbands, neighbours, God. Don't let's think about that now; all you need to know is that what makes the world go round is not the search for pleasure, but the renunciation of all that is important. 'Does a soldier go to war in order to kill the enemy? No, he goes in order to die for his country. Does a wife want to show her husband how happy she is? No, she wants him to see how devoted she is, how she suffers in order to make him happy. Does the husband go to work thinking he will find personal fulfillment there? No, he is giving his sweat and tears for the good of the family. And so it goes on: sons give up their dreams to please their parents, parents give up their lives in order to please their children; pain and suffering are used to justify the one thing that should only bring joy: love'.
So, my bald headed Texan boss is not very happy. And being a Republican, he wouldn't be. I guess now he and Donald Trump have a lot to discuss. As an outsider, it doesn't really matter to me who won or who lost the election. Working for one of the worlds biggest banks means that business always goes on, as usual, and that won't change unless there's some sort of miraculous revolution and the US becomes a communist country.
Our very Democratic MD (good friends with the Clintons, that kind of Democratic) seems strangely indifferent. It would be great if that indifference could be translated into a bonus for all the staff. Or at least another free lunch. Ah, wishful thinking...
If anything, it would be interesting to see how the world shapes up in the coming months. I'm not terribly excited about it though, I must admit. Here's hoping anyway.
For my Republican friends and acquaintances, if things prove to be too unbearable, you can always move to SA permanently. Americans here live like Kings. I know, I work with them. There aren't any NR Associations though, but you should bring your guns anyway - and your balls.
I was standing, slumped against the wall, waiting for my sister to pick me up – reading yet another of Coelho's works and was rather engrossed when he approached me. I recoiled instinctively as he came closer... a combination of partial-PTSD from last week and the anticipation of a reprimand of some sort, for something or the other. It’s his uniform, very autocratic and authoritarian and intimidating.
“You like reading”... he said.
I stood for a moment, deciphering whether this was a statement or a question.
“Ye-ss”... I said slowly and undecidedly, curling my fist and preparing to punch him in his fucking head if he tried anything.
“I see you here, everyday. You’re always reading”, he continued.
I relaxed, smiled, and said that indeed, it was something I enjoyed very much.
“Maybe you have heard of this book... it’s called...”, he rolled up his eyes looking at the ceiling, trying to recall the name.
“It’s called ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill. I read the first four pages and it did something to my soul. It stayed in my head. It wasn’t my book, so I couldn’t read it. I was wondering if you have it, so I can read it”, he said.
There was something so earnest in his eyes and in his voice as he said this.
“Do you work here everyday?”, I asked.
“Yeah I’m here every day, around the station”, he replied as my sister pulled up beside me.
“Okay, I’ll get it for you”, I said, before getting in.
And so I am. Car Guards in SA are people who look after your parked car while you’re shopping or running an errand of some sort. They usually earn very little money, and life as a security guard at the Gautrain at Johannesburg’s Park Station is both thankless and perilous.
So, I’m looking for this book and I’m willing to pay for it. If anyone has heard of it or has a copy that you’re willing to sell, please let me know. I’d really like to get this book to him as soon as possible.
"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to get through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that this was my life. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way'' ~ Alfred D Souza