Saturday, October 12, 2013

leaving the muddle

  1. 1.
    in a state of bewildered or bewildering confusion or disorder.

a couple of days ago i re-watched the remarkable film "weekend", which came out a couple of years ago and is the story of two men who meet at a gay bar and engage in a weekend of drugs, sex, and conversation.  you know, an old-fashioned love story.

one might wonder why a film would be made about a gay weekend hookup, since these two fellows only have each other for a couple of days (one is leaving town). but in the film, much more happens.  perhaps it is the effect of the drugs they take, or perhaps it is the effect of the sex they have, or perhaps it is the effect of their mutual longing for each other.  regardless, there is an unmistakable intimacy that develops in the course of two short days, despite each characters' efforts to keep it from getting messy.

i was watching this film because i wanted to show it to a young man i have been dating for almost a month. (sorry, i should have warned you to sit down before reading this post!)  in one of those wonderful moments of "messiness" (see last post here for more on this idea), he fell asleep ten minutes into the film with his head on my leg.  i ask you, is there anything more romantic than that?  even though he missed most of the film, i am glad to have re-visited it myself, since the last time i saw it last i was decidedly and committedly not dating.

during this recent viewing, i realized that two states of being were projected: messiness and muddle.  what is the difference and how could i tell which was which?  well, the messiness occurred when character one made an unplanned stop at a gay bar after a family gathering (family gatherings will do that to you!).  it is here that he met character two. character one was drunk, and he took character two home.  messiness.

over the weekend, the two characters had sex, they did drugs, they talked.  they also argued--mostly about whether gay marriage was a signal of progress for gay rights or a capitulation to the status quo of hetero normative relationship.  toward the end of the film (SPOILER ALERT!) they found themselves unexpectedly in mutual anguish, realizing that despite the brevity of their encounter, they had developed an attachment toward each other, and now, one of them was leaving the country.

you will have to watch the film to find out what happens next.  :-)


when i wrote previously, i inferred that messiness is the "fairy dust" that makes life magical.  it is the surprise that disrupts the careful order we attempt to make of our lives--go to work, eat dinner, watch favorite programs, go to sleep.  there is value in that routine in that it feels as though it insulates us from the chaos that reigns right outside our front door.  but it is is illusory, this insulation.  it is my assertion that we secretly long for the chaos.  i know that i do!  in the chaos is where we find the magic of life:  excitement, passion, surprise, discovery, sadness, tears, joy, sweat, love.  in my own life, i have walked a tightrope between chaos and control, and as a theater performer this was easy to do, since performing onstage is a form of controlled chaos.

but the challenge with messiness is that if it is too foreign to what we know, it can be unsettling, even in the exhilaration of it.  when that happens to me, i have a tendency to retreat into either the past, or the future.  both portend disaster.  both signal the arrival of the state of being muddled.  

there is a saying that i love, and it goes like this:  "if you have one leg in the past, and one leg in the future, you are shitting all over the present."   that saying is a perfect description of the muddle.  retreating into the past or the future is a well intentioned attempt to control the messiness.  but it is a mistake, because messiness does not need to be controlled.  it needs to be embraced.  that is where life is, not in control.  but this is not the message that the world gives us.  instead, we get: GET A JOB, SAVE YOUR MONEY, LOVE ONE PERSON, STAY IN ONE PLACE, DON'T SURPRISE PEOPLE, BE RESPECTABLE.  when i retreat into the past or into the future, i can tell right away, because i become miserable.  i go either backward or forward in search of some guarantee that everything will work out just fine, which is something that completely negates the magic of messiness. if you accept the messiness, then you must also accept that things may not work out just fine, but you must also accept the notion that even if things do not work out just fine, you will be okay.  that is because in the messiness, sometimes things work out just fine, and sometimes they don't.  that is--magic.

the muddle is not life, it is retreat.  it is anti-life.  it is fueled by fear.  and when i drive down the muddled road, i never get where i want to go.

the messiness resulted in me having a young man fall asleep with his head on my leg during a movie.  i feel as though the memory of that moment will never leave me--never.  the muddle resulted in me not trusting that experience, the magic of it, and searching in my past and in the imagined future for a way to control feelings that do not make sense to me in the present.  fortunately, i did not spend more than a morning in the muddle.  only in the present can we create the chance of a future without pain.  only in the present.  we need to pay attention to the present. that is where the magic is.

so much of what is happening to me right now does not make sense in the past or in the future, but the other side of that coin is that it feels like magic in the present. and we all need a little magic now and then, don't we?

i know i do.