Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Modern Love and Other Interactions in 2014

"We can never bring it about that we require nothing outside ourselves to preserve our being, nor that we live without having dealings with things outside us." 
- Benedict Spinoza, in Ethics.

Prior to writing this post, I've had to listen to this podcast on Modern Love [mp3], read the short story 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' by Flannery O'Connor, read about losing yourself in a relationship in this 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' cautionary tale and made a searching and fearless moral inventory of my interactions with those who I've so far had any sort of affection for.

That said, today's post is simply an amalgamation of varying viewpoints, highlights and personal thoughts about this most interesting of human interactions - love.

A Love Most Interesting.

First of all, a question: Can love be endless?
I bet you'd also want to find out how a man can spend over a decade in love with a woman who doesn't exist. Even more interesting, what would you consider the worst first date of all time? Well, check out this podcast on Modern Love to find out.

Relationships with Others

Almost 4 years ago, I came across a document that profoundly challenged my views in regard to how we should relate with others. In our continued search for meaning, satisfaction and fulfillment which goes way beyond transient happiness, relationships are crucial.

Life is more fulfilling when one genuinely cares for others. Interestingly, a lack of true friends always becomes a very big crisis later on in life. Needless to say, human beings become depressed when they are alone for far too long.
It is partly thanks to the foregoing that inasmuch as I revel in my own company, I remain cognizant to the glaring fact that there is both a need and place for other people in my life. Interactions therefore, are necessary in life.

In 2014, my long-planned journey of touching countless lives, albeit one life at a time through my writing, begins in earnest. Every time I speak about things I am passionate about, I get to realize just how much there is to say and even more important, just how much more there is to learn.
Just like Flannery O'Connor, I now realize that it is by telling stories that I can best communicate. She says:
“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.”
Flannery O'Connor
When we carefully examine how we live with others, it becomes apparent that there are many DOs and DONTs that govern how we relate be it with family, friends, colleagues at home or at school, acquaintances or total strangers. Whatever the interaction, some mutual respect and basic etiquette are always a good start to sustain any useful discourse.

Should this not be forthcoming from any or both parties, there would be no sustained dialogue or any communication at all. No meaningful interaction can then occur.
Doing the right thing is just one tenet of managing to live with others in harmony, and only then can one find true fulfillment in a world filled with others whose way or viewing things may be profoundly different. That is where virtue comes in. As Benedict Spinoza writes in Ethics:
"...the very foundation of virtue is this very striving to preserve one's own being, and that happiness consists in a man's being able to preserve his being. Again, it follows that we can never bring it about that we require nothing outside ourselves to preserve our being, nor that we live without having dealings with things outside us...There are, therefore, many things outside us which are useful to us, and on that account to be sought."
All in all, it is only by abandoning a foolish quest for the ephemeral rewards of happiness, wealth and power that you can begin to look for your true calling on this earth.
What it is that you will be seeking in 2014?

* * * * *

One Month Later...

I end this post by looking back at a day that was "touched by love." On December 7, 2013, "the harmony of love met with the melody of life to create a beautiful love song."

Exactly one month ago, I joined family, friends and well-wishers in celebration of Winni and George's wedding. It was a most colorful day, and my best wishes invariably remain with them even as they ended 2013 by beginning a new life together, a new family and all the good things that await them on their best days ahead. Together.

In sum, 2013 was a very good year.
It was the end of something. It was the beginning of everything.


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