Thursday, August 24, 2006

Buried Life

"No one’s spirit is gay or straight, but right now, in this life, as Gerald Pearson, I am a homosexual. I have got to follow that. You’re right. I could be celibate. If I didn’t >need to know and feel and experience, if I were content to just live on the surface of things, I could give it all up. I could squash myself down and bind myself up and tell life to go around and not through me. But, Blossom, I’m a person who needs to live! I am not an empty person. I’ve got to plunge into a life and find out what’s there for me! If I don’t, I’ll gradually die, piece by piece by piece. And I’ll be of no value to anybody, not you or the children or myself!"

Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

I found this highly offensive. I tried not to. But, Gerald, am I then an "empty person"? Is life merely going around and not through me? Am I not truly living? [Makes obscene gesture at Gerald.]

Gerald isn't the first I've heard make this charge, and he's no doubt not the last. I can imagine if I were him I would quickly add that what I say applies to nobody but myself... that I mean only that I could not live such a life, but that others might (although secretly to myself I would doubt it).

Actually, I have said something very much like that. When people ask me if I think every gay Mormon man should get married I say that my path is only for me. And it's a constant theme in the gay Mormon blogs that each one must reach down deep inside one's self and decide how to deal with this difficult situation.

But then there's that nagging absolutist deep down inside of me trying to claw out. Trying to say, "No, the answer for EVERYBODY is to trust that God knows more about our happiness than we do ourselves. What we can feel is so limited. We're like young children screaming to get away from the needle coming at us, the needle that will save our life."

And then the pragmatic L steps in and sasses back, "People know what makes them happy. They know it more than they know that something unseen and unsure can improve on the here and now." And then the absolutist L violently assaults the pragmatic L with an anvil and the spectator L grabs the popcorn.

The two L's invariably come to a compromise. The absolutist L, being much older and stronger, lays down the law that I internally acknowledge that everyone will be better off following God, but the spry and resilient pragmatic L won't back down until the concession is made that everyone should be allowed to figure that out for themselves, even if it's a tragedy. Gerald, for example, got a lot less life than he expected. And that's not just because he died of AIDS. He was unhappy as a gay man (although I'll save the quote on that for a later post).

But, pragmatic L insists, plenty of gay guys are plenty happy. It's not all tragedies. Absolutist L mutters under his breath, "Yeah, in this life." And spectator L throws his popcorn at the two and says, "Shut up, the poem is coming up."

...Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!
...
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
...


When Gerald heard this poem on Music and the Spoken Word, it was the first moment he knew absolutely that he was gay. Spectator L munches on a handful of junior mints and chuckles at the irony of why the poem was probably included in that religious program vs. how Gerald interpreted it.

12 comments:

santorio said...

i want to be cautious about criticizing someone who can't answer, but gerald's self-indulgence had a wide ripple effect. all decision points carry risks as well as benefits. when i have embarked on a gerald-like self-exploration, i have generally created more harm than help. but not always... aye, there's the rub.

Unusual Dude said...

I think it's a challenge for everyone on BOTH sides of this issue, to try not to yell at those on the other side how they're wrong. We all choose our paths for different reasons, and we all believe we are right. It's difficult to try and say that someone else made a different decision, when that decision might be right for that person. It's a validation issue - if I made a particular choice, then shouldn't EVERYONE make the same choice? Not necessarily. The "not necessarily" part has been hard for me to swallow, probably because of the need for validation, and a common human desire for there to be ONE RIGHT ANSWER to a question.

-L- said...

Absolutist L: but don't some questions have only one right answer totally independent of need for validation or human desire to simplify things? Some things are just a matter of fact.

Scot said...

For what it’s worth, L, I don’t (even privately) think you’re an “empty person” :-).

I really can’t remember too well what it was like exactly to be in shoes similar to Gerald’s, just that it was psychologically terrible for me. But, from what I know of love and parenthood and a devoted marriage, I can only muster so much patronizing pity for you ;-).

Seriously, I’ll be very interested to read why you all (all the Ls) think Gerald ended up unhappy in both worlds.

AttemptingThePath said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scot said...

”Absolutist L: but don't some questions have only one right answer totally independent of need for validation or human desire to simplify things? Some things are just a matter of fact.”

Absolutely. And, when it comes to family, I think most know what those rules are with more certainty than they can justify most anywhere else in their life. We just disagree.

I have my absolutist tendencies too. I love the comfort of them, and I came to these blogs with some I’ve had to fracture upon gathering new evidence. I hate fracturing rules into sub-rules based on additional conditions. It’s messy, darn you all!

”it was porn”

Maybe porn was part of it. But porn did not give him AIDS, and I suspect (though, again, I’ve not read the book) he had allowed much more into his life to make him unhappy than erotic pictures, both in and out of the gay world. Am I wrong? (Save it for your next post, L?)

The Ugly Swan said...

The trouble, of course, is when absolutism starts to say, "You can't feel the way you're feeling, because it's not the absolute sum of what you're doing."

Master Fob said...

I appreciate Unusual Dude's comment. I've been realizing lately that the more sure of myself I am (and hence needing less validation from others), the less I feel a need for everyone to make the same choices I do. I don't need something to be right for you in order to assure myself that it's right for me. In response to Absolutist L I'd say that there probably are some questions that have only one right answer, but our understanding as human beings is so limited that we'd be better off figuring out what that one right answer is for ourselves, and let everyone else reach their own conclusions. In other words, I'm sure enough that I've found the right answers to several questions to base my life choices on those answers, but not sure enough that I'm going to tell someone else that his or her answer is wrong. I try not to do so even secretly to myself, but of course I can be just as guilty of smug self-righteousness as anyone else.

And you are obviously not an empty person, L, if there at least three of you in there. (I like Spectator L best, if I'm allowed to choose favorites.)

Samantha said...

Yeah...you're talking about the same things I've been thinking about. Recently I got an email from a reader of my blog who said, in essence, that if I would live my life according to my TRUE nature, I would have less need of the many distractions I fill it with--implying that I, too, have an emptiness I'm attempting to fill.

I find Brother Gerald's line, "I could be celibate," very interesting, because celibacy is not a route I've ever even considered. The fact that it was present in his thoughts, even within his marriage...hmmm...just makes me wonder...if he was alive, I would have to chat with him, for sure.

Choice is sacred...and consequences are unavoidable? My comments are disjointed, and make no sense, but I'm just thinking out loud.

Speaking of which, next time we talk, will you please specify which -L- I'm addressing? And may I request the one I want? And which one of you made the obscene gesture? May I borrow him next time I drive on the freeway in a nearby metropolitan area?

Chris (hurricane) said...

For what it's worth, KK has expressed to me that she thinks my spirit is, in fact, gay and always will be--in the here and now and whatever is to come.

David said...

I enjoyed your post.

AttemptingThePath said...

HAHAHA SCOT! the porn thing was a reply to a question L asked!

ugh, that's hilarious