So, I have been able to hide from myself under the guise of my subculture for most of my life, the true self revealed in quiet, out-of-the-way moments, in foreign lands, under the influence of being under the influence.
It’s easy to sit in a cabin in the woods, free to let my true thoughts wander, find their way here, rather than have to face truth-or-consequences in society at large with my actions.
When I jumped back on Facebook for a day, reading the posts of people from my past — childhood friends, classmates, neighbours, workmates, etc. — I can only guess they are who they say they are.
I was never quite myself with them. I was the people pleaser, seeking to perpetuate the image I was raised to project — a white, middle-class, monogamous Protestant American man/boy.
In my thoughts, though, that’s not who I am.
“Actions speak louder than words.”
True, I derive some comfort from seeing the subculture in which I was raised is still loved and cared for.
I admit affirmation of my external self is a form of comfort food.
But it only lasts so long until the internal selves are torn by the conflict.
There are only a few reactions between sets of states of energy that I expect to be shared on this planet and then only in the context of my safe, sheltered subculture — equal treatment of members of our species whilst recognising that competition for resources is inherently unequal (for many reasons, geography chief amongst them); that is, life is unfair.
Otherwise, I don’t personally practice any particular religious rituals except when needed to motivate people to accomplish tasks for the sake of populating the inner solar system; I don’t personally work for a military organisation that needs to demonise people in order to build market share but I benefit from those who do; I don’t personally have a stake in political officeholders but I once financially contributed to the campaign of one political party while at the same time was paid to deliver pamphlets for the opponent’s political party.
I am a people pleaser and I am an opportunist. I am neither psychopath nor sociopath but can study their behaviours and act like one if it means we get a permanent Martian colony in return.
There are days when pretending to care about my subculture is a real drag, but I realise the alternatives can be much worse.
I often wonder why I stay married except I fear that if I, an Eagle Boy Scout who once received a U.S. Navy ROTC four-year scholarship to Georgia Tech, don’t believe in marriage, who will and if nobody does, what’s going to happen to the moral/ethical/religious fiber that we have said historically binds our subcultures together?
But then I look at our American society, which is supposedly composed of 46% of the population that is not married, and it’s doing all right.
Of course, it’s not the same as it once was.
Historically, the American Century was a geographical miracle of wars devastating foreign governments, creating global business competition which gave the impression that the American people (“give us your tired, your hungry, your poor”) were extra-special.
Having a monoculture that dominates the mass media (creating/perpetuating mass hypnosis) will give the impression that the monoculture’s unique traits are the ingredients that make people who they are; thus, premises can lead one to conclude that the American people were extra-special because the dominant monoculture was extra-special and the impression many had was the dominant monoculture was related to Judeo-Christian principles (and some would say it was 98% Christian and 2% Jewish (in fact, a few down here in the Deep South would shout it was 100% Christian but let’s not shout too loud just yet without the facts)).
I can only speak from experience and, in my five+ decades of living, I have observed that many who enjoy a relatively troublefree life of conformity to the Judeo-Christian subculture(s) are happy when they fully believe in and want to stay within the boundaries of those belief sets, regardless of small differences that have arisen over the years due to interpretation of the major religious texts and its various translations.
By extension, in larger subcultural subtextual context, we have belief sets associated with musical tastes; e.g., are you are Garth Brooks or Beyonce fan? Is there any reason you can’t be both?
Can you be both a Christian and an atheist?
Does the way Miley Cyrus or Beyonce shakes her booty on stage teach feminist values better than a lifelong politician like Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton?
In other words, our associative comparisons make us who we are.
By hiding here in the cabin in the woods, I can compare myself to the rest of the world and see I’m happy by comparison because I don’t have to do much to prove myself day after day.
In the 27+ years I have been married, there have only been two women who virtually held a mirror up to my face, asking me if being married to my childhood friend who has stood by me in my best and worst moments is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with: Brenda and Abi. In both of them, there was never a request to divorce my wife and marry one of them, instead, so I have been able to safely and happily use their unspoken question about my relationship to my wife as not personally motivated by them.
Their lifestyles not associated with a church, free from many expectations of social conformity, were the mirrors.
Both have been married and are divorced. One told me she loves women. The other told me she recently discovered she’s polyamorous.
I, too, love women. I, too, recently [re]discovered I am polyamorous.
Therefore, it behooves me to ask myself the question, if my marriage bed has grown cold, if monogamy has lost its meaning to me, why, except for perpetuating my subculture and its current/historical ties to society at large, except for the comfortable financial conveniences that marriage still affords, except for the fact that my wife and I have known each other since we’re 12 and are generally compatible, am I still married?
My wife wants me doing something that brings more income into our household. The last time I was in that situation, I saw how much I could afford to separate myself from her and put my childhood community behind me…permanently.
I admit it scared me at the time, traveling and working internationally, how much I desired to cut [some but not all] ties with a subculture I no longer believed in but was willing to keep up appearances for friends and family of old because it really isn’t all that bad but I might disappoint a few people if I acted upon my beliefs and not theirs.
When I jumped back on Facebook, I realised that with the hundreds of people there, I was accepting of whatever changes they had made from when I lived in the same community with them — married, divorced, childless, grandparents, nonheterosexual, godless, etc.
In other words, what am I worried about? Why this unfounded fear of one particular change in my life?
I can talk until I’m blue in the face or, as encouraged by a woman who whispered in my ear this week, I can act on the belief it’s time for me to step up and be a man.
Ultimately, all I want is for our species to expand into the universe. The rest of this is forgotten jibberjabber.
If I spend time worrying about hurt feelings, I’ll never get anywhere fast.