So much of the meaning of what we read is derived from our own conditioning. Growing up, I often didn’t have enough to eat, and, though I think I’m unlikely to go hungry again, my conditioning says otherwise.
In the novel I’m reading, there is a scene in which the protagonist, waiting for a friend in a small restaurant, orders two hot dogs, one for him and one for his friend. He realizes that his friend is being attacked nearby, and goes outside to help her. Mayhem ensues, after which he returns to the restaurant with his friend in tow, and they find their food waiting for them on the counter. Shaken by the violence they have just experienced, they don’t feel like eating, so they just have drinks instead.
Even though they are in physical danger, and the protagonist’s life is crumbling around him, all I could think of was the wasted food, those two hot dogs going cold and uneaten.
Note: Someone I know has been having the kind of problems that so many of us - perhaps most of us - have when we get into relationships. When she first started dating her partner, it was fun and she enjoyed him. Now that it’s a “relationship,” she obsesses about what he might be doing (with nothing in reality to suggest he might be doing anything untoward), and tries to control who he interacts with. She obsesses about what he might be thinking, feeling or wanting, and her happiness has become increasingly dependent upon how often he calls her.
Why is this so common? Because relationships are, by their nature, pathological. I wrote her the following suggestions. She said they helped, so I thought they might be worth posting here:
This is what kills what’s good in relationships. We attach, and so we want to control, and so it becomes entirely self-centered with no room for anyone or anything but our own greed and ego.
Try to look at what you wrote [about what she was thinking and doing] in a compassionately detached way. Can you see any love in there? It’s entirely proprietorial, entirely about control. It turns your partner into an object, a possession, to be guarded from others.
This is why relationships don’t work, but union does. You meet someone, enjoy being with them, and everything’s wonderful. Then you attach. And what happens when you attach to anyone or anything? You try to control them. Suddenly, there’s no love, no enjoyment of the relationship, because you’re too busy strategizing ways to manipulate and control what’s going on. This is the very opposite of love.
Love is not relationship (two separate things), but union. Love serves the relationship, and doesn’t seek anything in return. And, of course, when you do that, you receive everything.
When you’re engaged in “the practice of marriage,” and marriage is the master you both serve without thought of self, you’re happy and you enjoy each other. When you fall into attachment and desire for control - a self-centered story about what “I” want - you immediately stop communicating and start fighting.
And here’s the best way to destroy a marriage, or any partnership: Expect it to make you happy.