Yet in spite of you, there is one crown I bear away with me...
One thing without stain, unspotted from the world,
In spite of doom mine own! And that is...
My white plume.”
― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
I picked up Schnarch again. I had set him aside before. He's one for ideas that seem strange to me. I have a resistance to his words that is hard to describe. Nevertheless, he also makes one hell of a lot of sense. I can't just toss his book aside and leave it. I don't know what made me reach for it this evening, but I did. Fortunately, an e-book is never further away than my phone or computer. I started reading again where I had left off previously.
What is hard? Differentiation. There are portions of me that are not satisfied to have a level of differentiation that I had as an adolescent, in my parents' house, which is what Schnarch estimates the default case for the average human being to be. There are parts of me still hurting from my scuffling with my Heart's Desire, and these parts would rather not hear Schnarch's rhapsodizing over the joys of "entwined interdependence" and the rebuke these parts of me perceive in his words. These parts would flip Schnarch the finger and stride off into the "cold world," alone. He is not someone who one would think would appeal to the philosopher who is not a moral relativist, but apparently he does. He certainly speaks to me, and to hear her tell it, he spoke to Laurel, as well, despite her fondness for Objectivism-tinged logical razors. Hell, his book was her recommendation, as was Brené Brown, despite the fact that both would look askance at certain of her predilections. Nevertheless, despite Schnarch's common sense rationality, I find his words hard, frequently. If he is right about his "fusion" conception, and I find myself experiencing that phenomenon, there are frustrated parts of me that feel justified in offering me what other parts of me consider a false dichotomy: the "hard-liners" complain that if we must settle for the failure of "fusion" or nothing then it would be preferable to take nothing, and be alone.
“To sing, to laugh, to dream
To walk in my own way and be alone,
Free, with a voice that means manhood-to cock my hat
Where I choose-At a word, a Yes, a No,
To fight-or write.To travel any road
Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt
If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne-
Never to make a line I have not heard
In my own heart; yet, with all modesty
To say:"My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own."
So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,
Render no share to Caesar-in a word,
I am too proud to be a parasite,
And if my nature wants the germ that grows
Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,
Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes-
I stand, not high it may be-but alone!”
― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
Nevertheless, there are parts of me who have a taste for Schnarch's sensible thinking and wisdom, and some are drawn to his untangling of the weird sexual dynamics of the couples in his book like a rubber-necker with a macabre curiosity passing a gristly auto accident. I am also not one to blithely swallow the hard-liners' proffered false dichotomy, especially one so glaringly obvious. The "soft-liners" certainly aren't buying it. My problem is though that when interacting with Laurel sometimes, I perceive her to be arguing from a position of ignorance, and were I to adopt her own style, I would say "dishonesty," and I feel that she makes appeal to authority in asserting that her de-FOOing, not to mention her "years of therapy" have granted her more enlightenment than I, and therefore I have no equal standing to voice my own concerns, on some topics. It gets frustrating, and I realize that it is I who allows it to be so. It is vexing to have an argument thrown at me, full of logical holes I could drive a truck through, and be restrained by the fear of hurting her to not point it out, in my own defense. This is/was a very difficult dynamic with which to wrestle, and to give the devil his due, the hard-lines are not wrong to point out that if the relationship does not work, it damned well does not matter whether she is wrong or I am. Why fight, if both of us desire to cut? Sever and be done with it, is their cry. Therein lies the rub though: is it the case that it does not work? I'm not even sure if the question is moot, at this point.
So, I was feeling somewhat more clear and less dominated by emotional conflict last night, and looking for wisdom, or else a reason to challenge my clarity, I went wading through Scharch's pedantic vicarious deconstruction of my own deficiencies, and I came upon this paragraph, which I had read previously but whose significance had escaped me at the time:
Second, we always pick a marital partner who’s at the same level of differentiation as we are. If partners are not at the same level of differentiation, the relationship usually breaks up early. Sometimes one partner is a half-step farther along than the other— but it’s only a half-step. The fantasy that you’re “much farther along” than your spouse is just that — a fantasy. If you and your partner argue over who’s healthier or more evolved, you’ll be interested in three important implications: You have about the same tolerance for intimacy, although you may express it differently. You and your spouse make splendid sparring partners because you have roughly the same level of differentiation. Assume you are emotional “equals” even if you’d like to believe otherwise. If you want to discover important but difficult truths hidden in your marriage, stop assuming you’re more differentiated than your partner. Look at things from the view that you’re at the same level and you’ll soon see the trade-offs in your relationship.
Schnarch, David (2011-10-01). Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships (p. 69). Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition.
Wisdom. Reading that makes me feel foolish, and slow. Grr. David Deida and David Schnarch can phone their office, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the comedy, were they so inclined. Heh, it is grandiosity to presume this mental conundrum is anything other than terribly pedestrian, though. Well...I feel less entangled in a logical knot after reading that, but what to do with this wisdom? I'm not sure, at this point.
Sometimes late when things are real,
And people share the gift of gab,
Some are quick to take the bait,
And catch the perfect prize that waits,
Among the shells,
But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man,
That he didn't, didn't already have,
And cause never was the reason for the evening,
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad
— America, "Tin Man"