So here I am again, wasting away time, waiting for it to be 8 or so before I go to bed. Currently, I'm thinking about family.
I have ideals when it comes to family that most people would label 'unconventional', but some things are universally desired -- like love and harmony. Bottomline is, in America, family is a really shit landscape. The majority, I would say, have dysfunctional families, if 'functional' even exists in the first place. The way people build families these days, which I suppose is the way it's been done in the Western culture since the beginning of time, is your basic nuclear family unit based off of a heterosexual couple that are sexually and/or romantically
'committed,' usually monogamously. That's what we're all familiar with. It is certainly not the only way family lifestyle has been conducted throughout history, but most people in America are probably oblivious to all those other ways, so I won't go there.
My point is -- unless you're brain dead, you probably know that this Western family tradition has basically gone down the shithole in the last several decades. I believe America has the highest divorce rate in the world (because we just love to beat everyone in everything), and I think it's at least 50%. Going with that crude statistic, I'd like to remind you that the other 50% include couples who are still technically married but separated, who are still married but fight every day, who are still married but don't talk at all, who are still married but not in love, and the people who were never married in the first place. Basically, the group of people who are happily married is a very small fraction of the overall population.
Now what fascinates is me -- is the way our culture is so obsessed with sex and romance (but mostly sex) and yet at the same time, we are just about the worst group of people when it comes to conducting sucessful sexual and/or romantic relationships. Our marriages fail more often than not, our sexual relationships in general are more casual than committed, more shallow than deep. We fuck, we leave, we fuck, we leave, we scatter children everywhere, we leave a disaster area in our midst, littered with the hearts of others. We have ultimately stripped the phrase "I love you" of all real meaning. We spend millions of dollars on romantic comedy films that are all somehow way more successful than the love stories of the celebrities that star in them and the audiences that go see them. We must have the most tv talkshows on our airwaves, and you can flip on the TV anytime during the day and find one of them broadcasting a show on relationships -- whether it be scandalous or with the intentions of reaching out to the public with new ways of healing their sexual relationships. I think it's safe to say that 90% of our music, if not more, is all centered around romance, sex, sexual/romantic relationships, attraction, etc. Younger and younger these days, people start to turn the focus of their lives toward sex, toward who they can attract and get with and screw. All the money we work to acquire, all the effort we go through to look physically appealing, so much of our socialization all goes toward this sex/romance life. Maybe it's just because I'm not remotely interested in any of it, but it really does seem overwhelming. I am all for the pursuit of love, but I don't see how that love absolutely needs to be of a sexual/romantic nature.
You would think -- that by spending this much time, money, and energy on sex and romance, we would have a higher success rate. You would think more Americans to be happy with their social lives, happy with their relationships, happy in general.
Needless to say, that isn't the case at all.
I'd just like to suggest that maybe -- it's time for something new. Why continue on this shit cycle? Sure, some people have great romances, great marriages, great nuclear family life, but most of us don't. So why don't we do something about it?
Now, I'm sure my ideas probably sound insane to most, if not all, people -- because they can't fathom a life without sex, without romance, without that generic social plan that most people still follow, but hear me out. I have a lot of versions of my perfect world, and the social element is a big part of it.
In theory, if we had outstanding relationships with our siblings -- the type where we would love them with a love that was passionate and deep, I think it would be awesome to spend our adult lives with them. These days, most siblings get split up all over the damn country, all away from their parents too. It's good to go your own way, see the world, be independant -- but as far as siblings go, I think it's beautiful when siblings really love each other. Not the kind of "love" where you send each other a damn card every Christmas and exchange small talk whenever you see each other, but I mean the type of love where they're basically the most important or among the most important people in your life. I only one full-blood sibling, a younger sister, and I can tell you that right now, while we both live in the same house, we both know our friends better than we know each other. How many siblings go have fun together, just because they want to? How many siblings really confide in each other all the depths of their minds and hearts? How many people love their siblings so much that when they tell each other "I love you," they can feel it in their chests, like a physical stirring?
Family based on biological relation doesn't have to stop at the standard level of one household stemming from the same parents. I think it would also be really amazing if we could share our adult lives with our "distant" relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, even grandparents. Again, most people live in totally different states when it comes to these relatives. No wonder we fuckin' call them "distant" and our parents/siblings "immediate." It's really all about the physical location.
I think it's damn near tragic the way so many people barely even know these relatives. Even the people who get together with them every Christmas and Thanksgiving don't seem to be all that close to them. And really, how could they be? If your sole communication is one or two times a year, you can't possibly form true love or know each other deeply. You would have to communicate on a regular basis. Even if you can't see each other regularly, you can still develop a strong bond through correspondance, but most people don't even think of doing that. We're all so damn busy working and screwing and trying to hold our immediate "families" together. No one bothers to get intimate anymore. We've been falsely led into believing that intimacy is only for sexual relationships, which is funny, because I've already established that those haven't been working out well for the last 30 or 40 years.
I just don't understand how the masses seem to totally disregard all of their blood relationships. Blood, although certainly not the only strong base, is definitely one of the strongest foundations for deep, loving relationships. Why the fuck haven't we been taking advantage of it?
I can't tell how beautiful I think it is to see a set of brothers really love each other or a pair of sisters so close, it runs deeper than what you can observe and you feel that it does. I also can't tell you how badly I wish I had intimate, deep love with my cousins and all of my other "distant" relatives for that matter.
(Cousin relationships are something I'm particularly interested in, if only because I feel like it's such a different type of relationship that lacks the definition of all other familial types. There's something about cousins that is just -- unique. I haven't put my finger on it quite yet, but I feel it. There are so many questions to be answered: what is the nature of cousin relationships? Should we love our cousins? How deep should our love be? Why are they special? Why are they different? Why do I feel such a forceful pull toward mine? Is it possible for our lifelong "committed" relationship to be with a cousin?)
[Another tangent: I've always wanted a brother. In recent months, that desire has developed into one for several brothers. I'm not sure why I feel this, but it won't go away. Maybe it's got something to do with my general love and interest in men and brotherhood and the unique dynamic that male love posseses. All I know is that I'm hit with these instances of really wanting a brother or brothers, and it's one more sad disappointment for me -- never being able to have blood brothers.]
Now this brings me to another friendship spiel. What if we actually lived in a world where friendship sat atop the social pyramid as the most important and valued form of love? What if our families were built with friends, instead of sexual/romantic partners? What if we took a more tribal, communal approach to the family tradition, instead of this crumbling institution of the isolated, nuclear family? What if we developed a committed relationship with one or several friends and shared our whole lives with them, lived together as married people do, raised our kids together? What if a committed friend was the most important in the average person's life? Would we have more success as families? Without sex in the major relationship, without monogomy as a necessity, without the pressure of having to make a family unit work with only one other person -- your sexual significant other -- for support, would the family unit have an easier time of lasting and lasting well?
Why do we not include friends in our family units? I know many of us say that we have friends who are "like family" but why can't we just cut the "like" out of that phrase? Why can't we re-define family as people who are connected by love and not blood alone?
(Perhaps that's because it would force people to realize how few people share real love with them....?)
Most people, I know, probably wouldn't be satisfied if platonic physical affection totally replaced sex in their lives, but why can't we have both in equal measure? Hell, why can't we have more platonic physical affection than sex? As physically pleasurable as sex is, is it really that spiritually fulfilling to sexual people? I can't personally say because I've never had sex, nor do I need or want it; it just seems to me that sex is highly overrated in our culture. It feels good but when it's over, it's over -- and it doesn't cure emptiness or loneliness permanently. It doesn't cure anything, really. In fact, it often creates a shitload of problems. It's a healthy, biological process and all that, but it isn't everything. Shocking, I know. But it really isn't.
What could I possibly want if not sex, you say? Well -- me, I'm looking for Soul Love. I'm looking for something metaphysical. I'm the weirdo who wants to spend her life with some really.... amazing friends, who I hope to find if I stay alive. And that might not sound like much, but then again, I define friendship differently from the general public too, especially when it comes to serious friendship. I can always go order a wedding cake for the hell of it if I want to; that really is the best part of a wedding anyway.
So, maybe I'll spend the rest of my potentially short life ultimately alone, without any committed relationships to speak of. Maybe I'll never experience that utopian happiness of finding and sharing life with a soul mate (friend, in my case). Maybe I'll be the odd one out, the loner left in the dust of all the sexual people I know who are currently after marriage, sex, romance, and the standard. Hell, maybe we're all meant to be eternally eluded by our social ideals, our dream lives.
But perhaps, one day, culture will turn around -- and head in a different direction.