Said the demi-divinity Disenchantment to the boy Bao-yu:
“The reason I like you so much is because you are full of lust. You are the most lustful person I have ever known in the whole world!”
Bao-yu was scared by the vehemence of her words.
“Madam Fairy, you are wrong! Because I am lazy over my lessons, Mother and Father still have to scold me quite often; but surely that doesn’t make me lustful? I’m still too young to know what they do, the people they use that word about.”
“Ah, but you are lustful!” said Disenchantment. “In principle, of course, all lust is the same. But the word has many different meanings. For example, the typically lustful man in the common sense of the word is a man who likes a pretty face, who is fond of singing and dancing, who is inordinately given to flirtation; one who makes love in season and out of season, and who, if he could, would like to have every pretty girl in the world at his disposal, to gratify his desires whenever he felt like it. Such a person is a mere brute. His is a shallow, promiscuous kind of lust.
“But your kind of lust is different.
“That blind, defenceless love with which nature has filled your being is what we call here ‘lust of the mind’.
‘Lust of the mind’ cannot be explained in words; nor, if it could, would you be able to grasp their meaning.
Either you know what it means or you don’t.
“Because of this ‘lust of the mind’, women will find you a kind and understanding friend;
but in the eyes of the world, I am afraid it is going to make you seem unpractical and eccentric.
It is going to earn you the jeers of many and the angry looks of many more.
[On request of your ancestors the Duke of Ning-guo and the Duke of Rong-guo, I have brought you here to rid you of this condition.]
“My motive in arranging this is to help you grasp the fact that, since even in these immortal precincts, love is an illusion, the love of your dust-stained, mortal world must be doubly an illusion. It is my earnest hope that, knowing this, you will henceforth be able to shake yourself free of its entanglements and change your previous way of thinking, devoting your mind seriously to the teachings of Confucius and Mencius and your person wholeheartedly to the betterment of society.”Hong Lou Meng – Dream of the Red Chamber
trans. David Hawkes
In the previous essay, I gave an account of my first four years of life, concluding that my mind could essentially be divided into three avenues, or modes:
- Oh! Look at the pretty thing!
- …am I in danger?
- Oh no. I have killed my dog. I have made a terrible mistake from which I will never be redeemed.
In this essay, I will pick up where I left off.
I will present three key early memories showcasing how the ideal of romantic love emerged into my life, each of which added a new thread in the web that is my mind.
Using that as a foundation, I’ll breezily extrapolate the next two decades of my love life — in particular, how it became hopelessly entangled between Modes 1 and 3.
Memory 1: Picture of a girl
I was, by all accounts, an unusually independent and self-sufficient child. My parents pointed out that I never used a “comfort object” — a ‘safety blanket’ or stuffed animal a child brings to unfamiliar situations, or takes to bed.
There was, however, one exception.
I am told that, at the age of 2 and a half, I am told I developed a strong attachment to a booklet advertising American Express products, which I carried around with me always.
The cover of this booklet featured a beautiful young woman in a one-piece bathing suit with the sides cut out emerging from the ocean and pulling back her long, wet hair.
From this, we glean something very straightforward.
At an extremely early age, long before any overtly sexual impulse could have developed, my aesthetic sense moved beyond the landscapes of natural world and the artworks my father had strewn around the house to develop a new interest:
In practice, what this has meant is that I have been cursed by “high standards”.
That phrasing, however, seems to suggest that what I’m holding to high standards is the other person. Whereas it’s more that the intensity of my attraction has to reach a certain threshold for me to feel the romance is worthwhile pursuing.
There must be an element of passion; my attention has to be drawn to the point of total immersion; I must, to some extent, be enraptured.
More than anything else… there has to be something of the feeling that inspired me to make that picture of a girl in a bikini into a kind of totem. I have to inhabit the headspace of a three-year-old’s “blind, defenceless love”.
Otherwise, it just feels awkward.
But perhaps the best way to express it is this.
After I awkwardly and hesitatingly joined a conversation on sex and pornography between some female friends of mine last autumn, one of them commented, with a note of surprise: “You speak of a woman’s body as if it were sacred.”
Before I knew it, I had already responded: “Obviously!”
It’s only in the aftermath that I realized the immediacy and vehemence of my response revealed a long-running, deep-seated sense of betrayal at my fellow sentient beings.
Since literally before I can remember — before I formulated the concept of the sacred or came into contact with any of its cultural trappings — I have invested a significant proportion of my soul in the beauty of sensual love.
And, while you never know what’s going through other people’s heads… I have rarely had the sense that others see it quite the way I do.
And so… from the start, I’ve been unpractical, eccentric… and, after the first jeers and angry looks, in a bid to avoid any more… largely silent and lonely in my idolatrous and doomed attachment to my own sense of fascination.
Memory 2: Playing tiger
I am in Kindergarten. The animated feature film Aladdin has come out recently in cinemas. So I am likely around 5 years old.
I am playing with a little girl in a blue dress under the slide.
She is Princess Jasmine.
The slide is her castle.
I, as it happens, am not Aladdin.
I am Rajah. Her faithful pet tiger.
The way I remember it, we have the whole playground to ourselves; the other children might as well be outside the solar system as far as I’m concerned.
The scene plays out thus.
She says: “Tiger tiger — go over there”, to do something or other.
So I happily bound over, on all fours.
Then she says: “Tiger tiger — come back!”
So I happily bound back.
Then she strokes my head and says “Good tiger.”
And I am in utter bliss.
From this, we see… …wait, no. It’s honestly not what you’re thinking.
…why are you looking at me that way? No, I’m not protesting too much!
…honestly though. This was not the start of an S&M fetish, or pet-play fetish, or furry fetish. I think my theology and reflexive analysis of associations should be pretty fair proof that it’s nothing as specific as that. The pattern it reveals is much more general.
It shows that I have long seen love as a kind of solace — a form of existential comfort — one could go so far as to call it a salvation.
In this episode, love became the counterpoint to trauma.
If the dog death is the archetype of “…things are not OK”, then this is the archetype of “all is well…. everything is, in fact, perfect”.
So, in the last memory, we saw the formation of “love = highest form of beauty; clearest expression of the numinous”.
Now, we have “…and that beauty is the way to make everything OK. It’s the answer to your pain.”
Another key element is the surrender of responsibility.
Crucially… in this scenario… someone else is holding the leash.
In this scenario, I am finally free of that crushing sense of responsibility.
Thus, a key element of the ecstasy of love has been to revel in the sense of trust. You close your eyes and enjoy the very fact of letting go. It’s the place where you, for a few blissful moments at a time, get to hand over your agency to the Other.
…what did this mean going forward?
Well… it meant that I wanted love not just for “positive” reasons, but “negative”. In the sense that I didn’t just want it for the joy — I wanted it for the relief from pain. It’s where my mind trended when it wanted both delight and healing.
Love had caught me in a pincer movement. I was locked in on both sides. Love is where I looked to when feeling good, and love is where I looked to when feeling bad.
It also meant that, to a large degree, I have wanted love to come, freely given, from an outside agent. The idea of being the active party — the one to do the heavy lifting and reaching out to the other — is kind of against the point. If I have to act in such a way as to convince you to love me… then, to some degree, I feel as if it’s less meaningful.
This has been exacerbated by the course of my non-love life.
Everything has felt like quite a lot of work. I’ve had to wrench myself around and force myself to do difficult things… and I’ve largely had to do so alone. Career and artistic creation and the search for friendship have all been effortful and exhausting. What’s more — my intellectual and spiritual growth has been arduously and anonymously self-supervised.
That made me all the more desperate for romantic love to be the one thing that went against that logic — the one free lunch — the one thing that would just fall into place by itself, at least initially — the one treat to give life a little sweetness.
I just couldn’t bear it to be unnatural, forced — another slog.
I wanted the experience of falling in love to be like a hand reaching out in soothing caress. I wanted to be approached gently and comfortingly.
In other words… I didn’t just want love.
I wanted grace.
Memory 3: The disaster at the beach
I am at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles.
I am 10 years old.
I have just been riding the waves in and out on what we used to call a “boogie-board” — a short, wide surfboard you ride on your chest.
But, at this moment, I’m just floating on the water, facing the beach… and, you know.
Doing my thing.
That is, idling. Letting my mind wander, until it moves beyond thought, and into an ever-expanding space of indefinable emotion.
I am suddenly pulled out of my reverie by a shy voice.
I swivel my head to the left and see the very image of beauty appear before me.
A girl is standing there, flanked by two giggling friends. She’s… well… what can I say? Sun-kissed hair. Bright, hazel-green eyes. And… just that sense of poise, of youthful power, of ease of movement which is the epitome of physical atractiveness — though her shoulders are held tense with nervousness, and she wears a bashful expression.
My immediate impression is that she’s straight out of a fantasy.
She speaks again.
I’m sorry, but could I, umm…
She turns back to her friends, who egg her on.
…could I please have your number?
In the split second that follows, my mind races through a thousand considerations.
She’s clearly older than me… maybe 13, say?
She probably thinks I’m of a similar age… but she’ll soon find out I’m only ten.
Plus, I only have a landline… if she calls, and my mom answers, and I have to have the conversation with my parents listening in… that’ll be super awkward…
Then my mom would have to drive me all across LA… cus we live more than an hour away.
So it’ll never work… it will be too much effort, and it’ll peter out…
Plus, oh gosh… it probably won’t just be us two. She’ll invite me to hang out with her friends… who’ll all be 13, 14… and there will probably be some guys… I can’t even talk to the other kids in my class, let alone a couple of teenagers looking to test me and put me down…
And… oh no. We’ve moved recently… so I can’t remember my number. I’d have to tell her to wait and go ask my mom…
So I start to say
But I stutter, so it comes out sounding strange…. and I seamlessly convert that into a weird, faux-French accent to finish with:
I don’t live here… I am not from this country….
She looks genuinely disappointed, apologizes again, and walks away, followed by her two chattering friends.
She had doubtless seen something in me when she approached. Something I’ve noticed in other people, from time to time… when they’re un-self-consciously staring off into the distance and touching on something rather special.
Well…. that something was now gone. I lay on that board, trying desperately to rationalize that disaster away — nothing would have happened even if I gave it to her… I just saved myself inevitable humiliation — and scrabbling not to slip into the kind of despair which can turn into a permanent condition.
…so, what do we get from this?
The feeling that I have blown it forever.
I got exactly what I wanted… literally exactly what I wanted, served on a silver platter meticulously engraved with chubby little Cupids…
…and I turned it down.
I threw it away.
I let my anxieties determine my inaction… like I would do so many times again.
Ever since, there has been a kind of pressure to make up for it somehow.
And, crucially… this pressure comes in total contrast to the previous point.
No longer could I wait innocently. I became self-conscious, and felt, deep down — having rebuffed it when it came — that I did not deserve it, and must make some kind of penance until I re-earn the universe’s trust enough for it to give me a second chance.
And so, I got locked in that double-damned Catch-22:
I want something to come of itself… but I also have to make an effort to make it happen.
I have to go out and meet new people at every opportunity, to slightly raise my chances of getting a “rare drop”… I have to join Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge… I have to “give people the chance”, and go on a second date even if the first went nowhere… I have to feel misunderstood every time I open up to anyone on the topic, and then sit through their patronizing advice… and afterwards, I have to follow that advice to the letter.
Because I used up all my luck at the beginning, and I can’t just sit there and wait for lightning to strike twice… and only if I flail out wildly might I chance to rub up against enough random surfaces to generate a static shock.
To make matters worse — as has been pointed out a trillion times — the twisted logic of the world is that when you want something desperately, it will draw away from you like the waters from Tantalus. Stop wanting it so desperately, and the waters will run down to you like a mountain stream into the valley.
So making an effort is no good… that very strain is what’s making it impossible…
So now, not only do I have the injunction to go out and waste my time and energy trying to find a partner… I also have the sole responsiblilty of making the supreme spiritual exertion of not wanting the thing I most want.
I have to somehow find a way to turn my insides upside down, and only then will I pull a girl towards me, as if by gravitational force.
…can’t she just do that, and draw me in via this cosmic tractor beam?
No, no, I have to do it myself…
So, once again… I have to earn grace… but this time, via triple paradox.
I really want someone to reach out to me… but I’m not allowed to just wait for it…
So I have to go out and hustle around…
…while also simultaneously finding a way to stop wanting it so much — to stop craving. It’s on me to do that; no one will come and help me find ease…I have to struggle inside as well as outside to stop struggling…
…all in the hope, which I must now make a secret to myself, that I can eventually find someone to console me for all the pain I’ve experienced in trying to find her…
Thus did the desire for grace become twisted and strained.
The longing for love thus became a point of constant tension.
And where did my mind think to look for a relief from this tension?
Which was a point of constant tension, from which I wanted relief…
The inevitable consequences
And with these representative episodes, and the general trends which they reveal… we basically have all we need to predict what would ensue over the next two decades (…though it’s all so obvious, I fear it would be redundant to spell it out).
I have been single all my life, and have felt the lack of love extremely keenly.
Due to the combination of high hopes and desperation which the anecdotes above reveal… I hardly even stood a chance.
Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were exciting moments, tantalizing possibilities, and hints of deeper connection. Even the embarrassments are probably best viewed as endearing rather than excruciating.
But on the whole, the question of romance, rather than being the source of joy I longed for, has mostly been a source of pain.
There was, of course, a tendency to fixate on unattainable interests, which could safely be relied on to go nowhere whatsoever.. and go there very… slow…ly.
That way, the idealization could have the most room to spread out in my mind; and the ideal was generally what I was after.
So… that was a large part of the reason why I failed in love for two decades.
It was perfectly obvious as it was happening… but what can one do about it, other than try to maintain a shred of dignity, resist the urge to despise oneself… and hopefully spend a little less time and energy on the next one?
The thing I really could have done without, though, was the traumatizing negative spiral which occupied my early-to-late twenties.
On a few occasions early on, I ended up acting inappropriately, and making girls uncomfortable.
On each occasion, I would be consumed by shame and guilt for weeks, months… years.
After the first of these, none of these episodes involved any physical contact — but ever subtler things resulted in ever greater emotional upset — saying the wrong thing, in the wrong tone, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As a result, I grew more and more tentative. Approaching girls became more and more fraught. The Catch-22 I described above turned turned from slightly comical to outright hellish.
In sum: the pull of Mode 1 of the mind — aesthetic consecration — became increasingly entangled with the push of Mode 3 — terrified guilt.
I could not shake the feeling that I was doing something terribly wrong when approaching girls — thus, I’d be fighting through “oh no I killed my dog” mode all the while I was trying to be casual and charming.
Sometimes, this would just lead to rejection; on others, I would get the sense they found me creepy, which would make me even more fearful the next time.
All the while, I hoped and prayed for someone who could take matters into her own hands… who could approach me with gentleness and care… but, alas — no dice.
On the occasions when I did get together with someone, I would invariably be so exhausted by the strain of trying to resist my negative emotions that I could almost never get it up.
Even when I could, the fact that I could be in such distress without my partner noticing that fact during such an intimate act — let doing anything, saying anything, or holding themselves in a way that could put me at ease — turned my anxiety into despair. It’s not their fault; they had their own heads to look after… but it was exactly the opposite of what I’d hoped for…
If I stopped and was open about my unhappiness, the encounter would peter out awkwardly, and I would generally never see them again.
As the years went by, my disappointment grew.
I had the terrible fear of time running out. I can’t remember how young I was when I first thought that I was likely to be lonely through my youth, finally find a partner who instilled confidence and comfort in me, and only then be flooded with the opportunities I had so urgently yearned for before. There was a sense of tragic inevitability as it unfolded in precisely that direction.
By the age of 26, I finally decided to just stop trying. If an opportunity presented itself in which I felt comfortable, I would go for it gladly — but I would at least spare myself the agony of all this emotionally exhausting, fruitless effort.
That strategy broadly worked.
Over the next 5 years, I would only have one partner, with whom I was intimate on two occasions.
That second encounter was the first net-positive sexual experience of my life: the first time in which there was more pleasure than inner turmoil.
And the energy I saved in trying so hard to find fulfillment in romance allowed me to develop in a new direction.
As romantic love’s hold on the first mode of my mind (aesthetic wonder) loosened, it was able to evolve into the full-on mystic sensibility.
The wider circumstances
So that’s my personal experience. But there are important elements at play here which extend beyond the particular events of my own life. And so, in order to understand what happened to me as an individual, I have to address what’s happening to us all, as a society.
I’ll just touch on this first matter very briefly — because it’s really not the main thing.
…here goes nothing.
People’s mental health problems are filtered through the topics of cultural import of their day.
In the 19th Century, crazy people thought they were Napoleon.
Napoleon is less of a hot topic these days, so now crazy people think they’re… I dunno, John Lennon or something.
There’s nothing Napoleon or John Lennon can do about that… they just lived their lives. But because they’re talked abut so often, people’s minds latched on to them.
Just so: I’m prone to anxiety and guilt.
If I had been alive 200 years ago, that might express itself as an irrational fear of going to hell for any sexual misconduct.
Given that I’m alive today… my guilt and anxiety has, at times, expressed itself through an over-active fear of being privately or publicly criticized for violating norms of sexual consent.
That scenario has been every bit as nightmareish to me as having demons poke at you with pitchforks in an open cauldron has apparently been for past generations.
It’s difficult to imagine a time in which people don’t have sexual anxieties and hang-ups. But each age manifests those in different ways. And, well… I’m not going to go into it here, but I think it’s important to find a way to discuss how the conversation around sexual politics has gotten tangled up with male insecurities…….. in a way which doesn’t encourage male chauvinism and anti-feminist backlash.
Because, see… guys these days can fall into this kind of double-bind.
They have issues with sexual confidence which are complicated with anxieties about being too forward with girls, or are existentially troubled by their lack of sexual success… but they struggle to articulate any of this, for fear of being lumped in with MRAs or Incels or whatever.
And, well… you know… that’s not good.
It would be better for everyone involved if we could evolve different narratives about male sexual alienation already.
But that’s honestly just by the by.
I think the basic issue is much broader than that:
Romance isn’t just about romance anymore:
it has become the only game in town — the basic social and spiritual good.
And that has turned a tricky issue into an even trickier one.
Liberal, capitalist societies have frayed the social fabric of an intensely social species. The tribe has been split up; we’re all atomised individuals, each making our own way through the world, and occasionally meeting up for coffee.
The only culturally sanctioned, stable social unit is the romantic partnership.
So, let’s say I’m feeling under the weather and can’t bring myself to cook a healthy meal. Or I’m overwhelmed at some bit of the endless stream of admin we’re all caught up in. Or I don’t know where to go with my life; what to prioritize; which path to choose.
A romantic partner will be expected to step in here and offer effective aid.
They’ll take care of the cooking that day.
They’ll go through the admin with you.
They’ll make it so that you’re not making that choice alone; it’s not just a question of what will you do, it’s what will we do?
Maybe it’s just me, but as far as I can tell, modern friendship does not extend to these things. You can maybe ask for help on one thing, once; past that, it’s rather impolite.
Friends are there for you to have a bit of fun with, to distract yourself and improve your mood… and to vent your problems, so that you can face them alone later.
But that… as far as I can gather, at least in middle class, millennial circles…is as far as it goes.
They’re not comrades. They’re not life partners; a tight-knit group of mutual aid; a source of true companionship though the vicissitudes of daily life.
The only place you’ll find that, in our contemporary society… is in a romantic partner.
So if you fail to find one… you’re basically on your own.
Unless you have a mountain of money lying around, you have to be your own secretary, accountant, cook, cleaner, priest, personal trainer… in addition to being your own lover, thanks to the occasional wank.
And so, romantic failure doesn’t just mean romantic dissatisfaction. It means going through the genuine hardship of facing life’s challenges by yourself.
In a ‘religious’ society, kids might grow up hearing hymns and songs of devotional prayer.
In our society, the only thing we grow up hearing are love songs.
Music is incredibly powerful. It is (other than physically messing with our brains with drugs or brain chips) probably the most direct way to influence our emotions… and shape the very course of our consciousness.
Confucius identifies it as one of the Big Four ways you change the world: benevolence, righteousness, rites-and-ritual… and music.
If you play the right sounds with the right timing, you’ll influence people on a deep level, which will have ripple effects through society.
So how does that work nowadays? Well, through an embedded network of conspiracies between musicians, radio shows, and record labels, we’ve ended up with Pop Music. We’ve honed in on the rhythms, chord progressions, and evolving instrumentations which can be relied upon to grab the attention of the greatest number of people, and get them to feel really good. To send them soaring and touch the fringes of rapture.
And we’ll accompany those emotions by speaking almost exclusively about… romantic love.
And thus, by the time our brain is just about done forming itself, what we associate with the feeling of rapture and bliss and meaning… is sensual love.
And as with music, so with pretty much every other widely-consumed narrative. In books and film and TV… other than “saving the day”, the Big Thing you get as a result of your effort is almost always a romantic partner.
And so… what do we search for when we want to touch rapture? What are we conditioned to think of as the highest experience on offer in this life?
A romantic partner.
We have spent tens of thousands of years working on other ways to access the heights of human experience… and those myriad practices are the flesh and bones of the world’s religious traditions.
But we’re routinely routed away from that by the dominant secular ideology.
And the only thing it offers in exchange is a love story.
AND SO… if that fails…
You have nothing.
You’re a lost soul.
You’ve been denied the Eucharist, and are in a condition of perdition.
If you fail in love, the only experience secular society can offer you is a vicious cycle of making money (usually in a job you’re unhappy with) and spending it on consumer products. It will parade celebrities in front of you and push your attention-seeking buttons, and give you the outlet of social media to simulate it.
For those who find that unappealing… there are no secular monasteries or churches they can go to flee to for a different kind of life.
Marx said: Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
Well, that painkiller is gone now. And it has been replaced with a rather tenuous and inconsistent substitute.
As a result of these social factors, romantic love has been overburdened.
We expect too much from it because we have nowhere else to go for social aid and spiritual fulfillment… and that added pressure makes love life difficult whether you’re in a relationship or not.
The way we live today, we basically put all our eggs in this one basket.
And so, unless you find some other way to team up with others and access a sense of consecration and communion elsewhere… romantic failure will mean much more than lovesickness and heartbreak.
So you can either find a partner, join a cult… or eat shit.
It is only through great turmoil that I write this at all. It’s such a personal sore spot that it feels even more than usually self-indulgent to publicly address it.
I do so nevertheless for a few reasons.
First and foremost — as ever — honesty.
Romantic disappointment is a defining feature of my life so far, from as close to the beginning as can be traced. Thus, if I am to try and give an account of myself, I must at least make note of it.
Secondly, to go on record on the topic.
The question of romance is an important existential category. I think many people struggle with it. And so it’s important to recognize the issue.
Unfortunately, it has also become a topic of urgent socio-political import. Young men today need to come to some collective and individual understanding of the pain they’re in if we’re to have healthy individuals and a healthy society — and if people like me vacate the conversation entirely, then the only narratives which remain will be the most virulent and misogynistic. So… I guess this is partly my way of gingerly stepping towards saying “listen, Jordan Peterson fans… I understand where you’re coming from… I just… hope we can change where you’re going to“.
But the last and most important reason is to help me draw a line under it.
The lack of love has been the crowning disappointment of my life so far — the insult on top of the injury of a life of more generalized impotence — the poisoned cherry atop a gravel cake.
It has added to the general impression that my life has been not only solitary and cold… but, in essence, a sort of humiliation — a parade of “could have been”s; an endless loop of:
If I had to face that 3 year old, that 5 year old, that 10 year old… and let them know what would become of my search for intimacy… it would simply break my heart.
It meant so inordinately much to me, and I got so very little from it, that it’s very difficult to accept that the reality of how the last two decades have gone.
I am 32 years old today… and counting.
As soon as I can, I’m going to try and trace a sequence of key moments of my life so far, through to the events of 2020… and in so doing, attempt to turn the page into a new chapter.
But no matter what happens in the future, it can’t change the pain of the past.
And so — though this will doubtless come across as maudlin and trivial to the reader — I’d like to take this moment to myself, use it as an opportunity to address my disappointments as definitively as I can, and move on as unburdened as is possible.
A Eulogy to Youth
We gather here today in mourning to mark the passing of a youth lost tragicomically to loneliness.
Many are those who have aimed for chastity, only to fall to the temptations of the flesh.
He, however, sought out carnal pleasure like Galahad the Grail — and fell, reluctantly, to purity.
His was an absolute fidelity to an aesthetic ideal, badly disguised as faithlessness.
A true Cynic, he was a dog who waited patiently on the spot he first caught whiff of his Master.
What he wanted was surrender — finding no one to surrender to, he simply surrendered to the flow of time itself… until he was, unwitnessed, swallowed up.
So before he slips away entirely beyond our reach, allow me to address him, one last time.
Dearly departed Young David,
You were, all told, a really sweet kid. No matter how much you may have doubted that, that’s the honest truth.
It’s a shame it didn’t work out for you the way you wanted.
But your stubbornness did win at least one victory: it means your soul has been passed on undiluted to your successor — Early Adulthood.
He has lost nothing of your softness; your unfulfilled desire has become his kindness; let us hope his hard-earned wisdom can take some of the salt out of your tears.
I pray you can rest in the peace of the realization that you have been, in your solitude, already complete.
Your love was always a love of the whole world. You sought in vain to fit it to a mortal form — but, in failing, you allowed it to expand back to that source of love itself. And that lover has always embraced you — and embraces you still.
It is subsumed in Her that, with these words, I leave you buried.
Goodbye… and, for what it’s worth… take my love with you.
With that out of the way, I can finally crack on with the autobiographical sequence.
There’s a few more childhood memories which I’ll have to mention, and then it will be on to the first major highlight — my encounter with my spiritual mentor.
Til then, keep well.