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Friday, April 14, 2006

Fellowship

As I’ve intimated, I do engage in some pretty intense athletic endeavors, which put me in regular and close contact with a group of fellas. Because of the nature of the sport, a certain camaraderie develops, so inevitably that even I am drawn sometimes into it, grim old anchorite though I be. I am too careful with words to call it friendship – an idea that involves trust and shared intimacies and the observation of character under any number of different stresses – but it is the most normal and fulfilling thing I’ve done in years. Necessary to masculine mental health. I’d never have known what I was lacking, without it.

But I’m a private guy, as you can see even here in my reticence of detail. So I make my little jokes, and otherwise generally keep my mouth shut. In part, truthfully, because some very bizarre things have happened to me, which have led me to believe that I am a genuinely unlikable person. Do I seem unlikable? No, that’s not it. Not unlikable. Easy to betray. Over the years I’ve had a few other sociable sorts of things, that ended disastrously after I’d relaxed a bit and shown a bit more of who I am. So I’m cautious, and (although I wouldn’t say it) untrusting.

But I was talking with a fellow tonight, afterwards. Last two, we were. And since my son had visited – Easter, don’t you know - I was speaking a bit about being a father. Well, it’s about love, isn’t it. So I said, what is it about that new baby, that makes us love? Well, of course, it’s that it is ours. A biological and instinctive imperative. No choice in the matter, in healthy animals. Necessary, to insure the continuation of the species. Because parenting is a big sacrifice, and so it needs a big instinct. But after a time, we - I - stopped loving him only because he was mine, and started loving him for himself. A necessary progression, in humans.

But we love not only our own children – the children of our bodies. I loved my foster kids. They were the children of my heart. Not all love makes a difference, though. Some of it is, by every human measure, wasted. There is no sure outcome – no guarantee of happily-ever-after, no promise of reciprocation. Well, there it is: some love invites betrayal beyond all reason. Painful.

There was a time when the futility of it all tormented me. Why do we love if it does no good, and causes so much anguish? The answer that I got was that love, in itself, has value. Even if the people we love deny us utterly, it is not wasted. Love enriches creation, simply by existing, regardless of its outcome. It pleases God.

We love our children first because they’re ours, and then for themselves. We would like to be loved in return, but there is no promise of it. Some light shines only into darkness. But that’s what love is: not a trade - a sacrifice.

So these fellas that I know. They are dear to me. Sometimes I’m happy, for knowing them. But we don’t really know each other. They don’t know me. And remember what happens, when people get to know me just a little.

I just can’t take any more loss.




J

2 comments:

paul asjes said...

jack h,
i don't know what to say except, your post made my heart very sad.

thank you for being who you are.

-paul

Jack H said...

Ah, Paul. You have a tender heart. I don't seem to shy away from sad truths, but let's not lose sight of the fact that there is a joy, to balance it out. Be at peace. We each have our own journey to make.

:-)

J