Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Sunday, April 8, 2007

On the Road to Hip Replacement

I’ve been contemplating the tragedy of hip lately. This train of thought rattled into my station when I realized that I never did actually read “On the Road”. So it was that I began picking up and reading books on Kerouac – not just his work but his life in general and it has been simulating in me a series of contemplations from a perspective that I have not pondered before – it set me out on a road of my own, if you will; a road into the shadow of “hip”.

I asked my niece and dear friend, Leslie; if she ever read Kerouac and she said she thought it was misogynist crap. That made sense to me as she is oriented into a much lower tolerance threshold for injustice as a woman than I. I didn’t pursue it with her. I think my angst may be generational as well as gender specific.

I do not like to rag on men or hear any such isolationist talk regarding any gender but the truth is, when I get weary of standing my ground, I’m overcome with the awareness that men make me feel lonely. I know all the psycho-babble about people cannot make you feel things; one allows the emotion of others to disturb one. But the truth is, if you are a heterosexual female and you want to maintain relationships with men, it is required that one allows something to be felt.

It seems the whole Judeo-Christian cornerstone of the civilization I’m familiar with is a vision of and for male gratification. Because men are the pure product of their own orientation and the center of all that they experience, I’ve found it impossible to describe to them what it feels like to be trapped in their orbit. I’m convinced that most men cannot even SEE the movement of the things that are constantly cycling around them. It appears to me that they are certainly not following the trajectory except when they are interested in fixing on a love interest or an activity or a possession that they want.

After I started into this journey, I realized in short order that it was I who had designed a life of self centered gratification. It seems to have happened because I wanted – or found sanctuary in - trying to be “hip”. I had a lot of personal reasons to maintain this persona beyond the thrust of popular culture, but what happens to me in terms of relationships with men is that I am always attracted to men who enjoy my “independent nature” and my ability to maintain a distance. Essentially, I’m attracted to men who throw me away. I’ve yet to meet a man who understood my translation of:

“This is who I am. Do what ever you want to do, baby, its okay by me. Whatever you do is just fine. We can swing when we can and let the other shit ride….”


“Go away. I’ll call you when I need something else from you.”

Doing whatever I want to do SOUNDS righteous and enabling but the problem is I’m not a man and that’s not MY kicks…that’s HIS kicks that I was enabling because being “hip” and a “free spirit” gave me a psychological easement into closeness. Of course, this is seen by men as entrapment…and it IS but by BOTH parties! It’s the irony of both parts in this dance that allows the inevitable insincerity to wend its way into the relationship.

MY kicks would be to find someone who would actually want me around and would love me BACK. Of course, I’d rather die because my comfort now is in distancing myself. (Oh, yeah…it’s no secret…I’m totally terrified of intimacy! I need a diaper just thinking about it.) Still, I have a need to understand this dynamic and I’m shocked, frankly, to see how much of my own behavior and altruism has brought to me such an amazing amount of sorrow. I’m surprised too that Jack Kerouac nailed my knickers to a fence post before I was even BORN then set my course to drift just out of reach of their retrieval by becoming the most popular value base in town for men my age.

I’m in a fixed rotation in a no man land with a popular culture that stresses keeping distance. I’m comfortable with that by habit and, fortunately, I love the company of women. As a result, I’m only lonely half the time…the rest of the time I’m on the shady side of the road by myself.

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