Response to Unpopular Opinion: Monogamy

The issue of whether humans are inherently monogamous beings is not a new or dynamic conversation so when I saw the heated banter between people, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. Any semi or quasi educated person has attempted to rationalise the idea of man (by this we mean man kind- I’m going to keep gender bias out of this…for now) being naturally incapable of staying committed to one person.

I read up on the original post by MzLee and NollyOdBanks and nothing surprised me about their observations. I should first be clear that I completely agree in the belief that monogamy isn’t inherent in our nature – we as humans have an animalistic instinct which is at odds with the societal pressures that we find ourselves living under.

However, just because we are unable to truly embrace such a characteristic… does that mean we should not pursue it? Think about a virtue such as generosity. Nowhere in the animal kingdom is there such a thing – its the food chain, there is no mercy. However, knowing the human condition of greed and destruction, can we afford not to exercise generosity to our fellow person?

Lee and Nolly speak from the point of view that normalising the idea of monogamy is wrong and close-minded. I argue that monogamy is not imposed but socially accepted to maximise good – by this, the good of humanity. When I talk about socially accepted however, I’m being admittedly naive about those who are judged for living a certain way of life. I find this abhorrent. This conversation is also not about infidelity or morality. What I choose to focus on is the maximum good or bad that can be caused from an act. The question is not whether polygamy is right or wrong but whether it is good for humanity or not.

We cannot base the conversation of polygamy by backgrounding it with talk about cheating. We are working with the assumption that cheating is irrelevant as it exists both in monogamy and polygamy and it’s an individual’s personal decision.

Within monogamy – by this I refer to the legal definition of only taking one partner – multiple partners have existed long into the history books. A man marries whether for love (at a point) or status or wealth and it was considered normal – not taboo to have a mistress (or the male version of that if thats where preferences lay) . This was not seen as cheating and was socially accepted. As long as the man did not bring scandal to the family name and was able to take care of both wife and mistress, no eyebrows would be raised.

The most important point I raise here is the issue of responsibility.

I have no issue with polygamy. It exists today and it’s not a new concept or a taboo one for that matter, at least it shouldn’t be. I consider the greatest civilisations in human history to be the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, in no particular order. They were a wealth of enlightenment and knowledge, rational thinking and a wonderful combination of religion, spirituality and scientific enterprise. These great nations practiced polygamy and divorce. It should be noted however that although polygamy was legal, it was generally practiced by the wealthy. Why, because practicing polygamy is damn expensive.

When a lion flourishes with his pride of lionesses, his leadership and ability as a mate is assessed on being able to protect his family. He has to ensure that they inhabit areas which are optimal for hunting and safe from other predators.

Using South Africa as case study, can we honestly say that we can uphold the responsibilities that come with being polygamous? Such freedoms, even more responsibilities. If wives were adequately and equally taken care of, their standard of living secured, I would have no problem with everyone running out today and grabbing multiple partners. However we face huge economic and social inequalities. Babies are left in dumpsters. Men are being dragged to maintenance court or khumbule’khay-ed . I don’t see how promoting a polygamous lifestyle is practical in a social climate where we must force men and women to take care of their respective partners and offspring. The statistics of gender based violence are ridiculous if we consider ourselves a truly rational and enlightened human race.

  • Almost 500 babies being dumped a month
  • 31% of partners report being abused in their marriage or relationship
  • As a country we have to blacklist deadbeat dads, or rather paternal genetic contributors

I know polyamourous people exist – I’ve had a few friends involved in such relationships. However we cannot rationally begin to pretend that polyamorous people are not the norm, much like homosexuality. They are deviations from the statistical sexual or emotional (if such exists) orientations. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting my fellow LGBTIAQ (and all other letters) people on blast, that would make me a traitor or worse. Statistically, though we have to accept that it is a minor percentage of people who engage in deviations to the norm.

As humans we always want what we can’t have – it’s the 80:20 rule. We have the 80% but that 20% that exists in someone else is just so goddamn enticing, we pursue it and neglect the 80% waiting at home with dinner and wine at the ready. We like things, as a species. However we cannot discount our jealousy and need to completely own and dominate something or someone. Man wants to own while still enjoying others.

Rationally, the idea of people being more and more open to polyamorous or polygamous behaviour doesn’t make sense. How can we enjoy the many  people out there but still want to possess those that we believe we own? It’s like how I shake my head at my guy friends who spread their seeds but are adamant that they wish to marry a virgin. If people began to engage in polygamous activity, mathematically it just wouldn’t work and emotionally we would be incapable of handling it. For those who have truly  achieved a harmonic polyamorous or polygamous lifestyle, I am impressed. It is not an easy path to take.

Let us not confuse monogamy with the social constructs of marriage that I believe are socially imposed. With marriage I talk of the religious as opposed to legal definition. There has been many cases in history where monogamy is seen as the better choice – however what has changed is the way in which we view the dissolution of a relationship. In pagan rites, lovers would marry for a year and day, and renew their vows to each other annually. This allowed for an easy parting if so required.  However when we start putting morals to a topic, naturally monogamy in modern, scientific and enlightened reasoning can be seen as a negative lifestyle to live. Bible-bashers, slut shaming all play a part in making monogamy look like a necessary evil – which it isn’t.

My final thought on the topic is this. If we accept truly that we are an enlightened and rational species – why have we continued to allow monogamy to be the social norm? I believe it has something to do with our inability to accept social and financial consequences of any polyamorous or polygamous activity that we could possibly engage in. Those who do manage to look after their own, and who function well within such relationships have my respect. But for the mass, for the average man and woman on the street, I don’t think the maximum good would come from promoting polygamy and polyamory.

So while it’s not sexy and cool to encourage monogamy, logically speaking, I have no choice until humanity starts deserving freedom.

November Rain in the middle of June

#WeBloggers Weekly Challenge

Find a song outside of your music comfort zone… something alternative and underground and write about it. It has to be something that resonates with you. 

So Guns N Roses is hardly alternative and underground but in my music world, it is so far out of my comfort zone that it was worth a mention when I heard this song for the first time this week.

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But darlin’ when I hold you
Don’t you know I feel the same

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

This week for me has been turmoil – I didn’t know if I was coming or going. From exes haunting me to sleepless nights worrying about work and finances – waking up to get through my 9 to 5 seemed so futile. It was a tough week, a lonely one. But it was also one of enlightenment.

Have you ever been present as it starts to rain? Present in the sense of standing beneath greying clouds. The first drop falls on you and you dismiss it as your imagination. You continue with what you were doing, until another heavy drop catches your attention. And then another and another. What had started out as something so cautious turns into a pattern of droplets vying for your attentions. And you have to take notice, and make that decision to run inside or allow yourself to be cried upon.

It’s cold, and it can chill you to the bone but also the pure feeling of water massaging your skin is worth embracing too.

He started to creep into my life, one little droplet at a time. It would have been smart of me to grab an umbrella as I was prone to do, or run – run inside. But I’m taking a chance and standing out in the rain again. I may get sick with cold once the rain passes on but with the rain also comes growth of something new and strong and powerful and I’m excited to see what that may mean for me. It’s scary but I promised myself this year that I would be fearless.

Don’t ya think that you need somebody
Don’t ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one
You’re not the only one

Wise man said, only fools rush in

I know pretty much next to nothing about love. I know even less about relationships. I kind of want to blame my parents but that would be misplaced as they have celebrated over 25 years of marriage together. However I can count on one hand the number of serious or steady relationships that I have been in, and even less digits represent the amount of times I’ve ever been legitimately and hopelessly in love. Or have loved?

These stupid phrases are all a question of semantics. In love. I love you. I love you too. Falling for you. Aargh, damn Shakespeare.

I’ve been googling what love is…, and some I say yes, some I say no. It’s the hardest thing in the world to process and analyse what love is- something so illogical that has such a profound impact on you.

I recognise in myself a certain pattern. Girl meets guy/girl. Girl gets excited and delves into it. Girl senses partner is serious and decides to either flee or fight for the relationship… more often than not to flee. When Girl chooses to stay, insecurity still exists and issues are created, whether consciously or unconsciously forcing girl to leave anyway in search of something better or a fresh start.

It’s hard for me to identify when things go wrong in a relationship, however I recognise that there are only extremes when it comes to myself and my love life. Really good or really bad. I’ve never had a relationship that was just meh… sure I became bored, but there was always a point where I was actively attempting to destroy it or strengthen it.

I know I have the ability to make someone feel most special and beloved, and on the other end of the spectrum be completely cold. I demand affection and then feel repelled and smothered by displays of love.

Blame my family?

I can’t believe that negative dynamics in the role between parent and child have affected my ability to love and commit to someone. My parents are very lovey-dovey, and not cold towards each other. I surely didn’t inherit my behaviour from them. They have remained monogamous and steadfast in their commitment to each other while I am inconsistent in the fidelity department.

Blame the voices in my head?

I won’t lie, my inner critic is a monster. Terrorising me yet creating a wall of arrogant protection around my heart. The voice demands perfection from people, unreasonable expectations and unwilling to compromise in love. No one is good enough for me, everyone is temporary until I find something better. It’s distasteful to admit that my mind has forced me into a state of expected perfection in all realms of my life. I used to have low-self-confidence, but now this new found arrogance and assertiveness has me feeling guilty for the way I think, humiliated by what I believe I deserve.

I am surprised to find how desperately I crave love, and I throw myself into one relationship after another fearing being alone. However I have never felt more alone in a relationship than when I am truly alone.

brainPhilophobia?

I am someone who values and is yearning more and more for stability and commitment, so how does it make sense that I fear love?

Vulnerability and taking a risk with our hearts is beyond frightening. And why? Because people suck and are hurtful and are more used to causing pain and destruction. However isn’t it then irrational that we pursue love knowing the hurt it will cause? Even when we swear off love, it’s only a temporary promise to keep our heart chaste.

Love is also unequal. There is always the one who cares too much and the one who doesn’t care enough is the one who has the most power. Feelings are also static, they evolve and devolve which could cause hurt and rejection along the way. How can we love, but be angered and irritated by someone we love. Why is the heart such a wishy washy organ?

gemini

Don’t blame me I’m a Gemini?

It makes me feel better that astrologists recognise that the Gemini sign is one of the most misunderstood of the zodiac.

So I lack consistency?… but there is no such thing as a constant emotion. We are not robots, so why would someone expect me to churn out a standard sort of feeling towards them.

Superficial… that doesn’t make sense when we over analyse things to death and weigh all the options. Having a very long list and high expectations should be a sign of confidence and knowing what I want…surely…

Lack of decision making ability… yes because I am in two minds and can see both sides of the story.

Lack of Direction… I call BS on that one. I know where I’m going, who’s coming with me? That’s a whole other conversation…

Anxious? Wouldn’t you be if you had so many voices in your head fighting for attention?

How can Mr Right suddenly feel like Mr Wrong?

What is it that changes, and this applies to all relationships? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but this is where my thought process is going. Perhaps there is no such thing as a Mr Right, but rather Mr Right Now. And it’s something that people should just accept. We can put blame on that.

waiting

The green light

I struggle with seeing people as just people – especially those who I am in relationships. Depending on my mood I will have dallied with Apollo and teased Poseiden, avoided Hades.

Daisy and Gatsby had a wonderful time together. She could create dreams with reckless abandon, a time of youth and wonder and love. Oh Jay is so wonderful and the potential is there, the promise and the hope of a better future… just within reach like that elusive green light.

All the bright precious things fade so fast…and they don’t come back – Daisy Buchanan

gatsby looking

Did Daisy Buchanan ever commit to waiting for Gatsby? Was it a mutual agreement or a non-verbal promise? I don’t think Daisy was flighty… she showed such a deep capacity for love and the need to be loved in return.

b22868cae7761f970005626488c9b23aI am no Daisy but something preoccupy in me is this constant waiting as I weigh the variables.  Daisy always knew that Gatsby was out there but did she know he was fighting for her and even if she did, did that make a difference?  When Daisy met up with Gatsby again, Gatsby didn’t try to take her away from her home, make her leave her husband (until the very end) and her child. He was perfectly content with the image of her she gave him in the few hours they frolicked.  Was Daisy ever Gatsby’s to own and possess and have in his life to treasure?

Even now as I write this there’s a letter in my inbox, an insistent whatsapp on my phone or a phone call I’d rather not take right now. My thoughts are already uneasy. I just need peace and quiet and for all the voices in my head to stop playing the blame game so that I can figure my next move.

I didn’t ask for this to happen. They always say that when you make a plan, God laughs. If I could live my life according to my plans I’d be perfectly happy. Despite my need not to feel tied down, I despise variables. I have so many pathways ahead and no map, not even a sense of direction to a possible positive outcome. It’s hurting me, emotions causing physical exhaustion. Do I wait for a sign? Do I turn back?

bf

Selfish, impatient and a little insecure

1 Corinthians 13:4- My Version

Love is impatient, love is unkind. It makes you jealous, possessive and a braggart and removes all sense of pride. You dishonor the rational voice inside your head, you become attention-seeking, quick to anger, every wrong doing recorded and internalized and never forgotten.  Love blinds you from the evil of others, and denies the truth that is so painfully apparent. It exposes you, ramifications make you distrustful and destroys all hope and perseverance. 

Love often fails. There is no way to prophesize this. There are no tongues that will indulge you in information that you could’ve, should’ve, would’ve known before hand. There is no true knowledge of love – no lessons learned or anything gained. 

Although I don’t want to believe this is true, love often takes away everything from me. I am someone who is logical, trusting and strong but in love I become jealous, moody and paranoid.

“I’m fine”- Fucked up. Insecure. Neurotic. Emotional.

I’m trying to change though. To believe in the ideal world of Disney and even Bible versus. It’s not easy and sometimes I slip up. I just need that special person to wait it out through this journey with me.

Letter to me from him

For years, I’ve searched for you in bars, in classrooms, and unforgiving events which saw me leave with strangers thinking its you. I’ve hoped that you would magically swoop in & complete my life, and I’ve imagined that I couldn’t be happy until I found you (not to say I’m not happy with you).

But then just then I realized that this isn’t a fair thing to ask of you. Why should anyone hold the burden of making a “half-person” feel complete, of holding me up as if I couldn’t stand on my own? Why should a single person be wholly responsible for the happiness of another? That’s a big task for any person to take on, one that’s bound to result in a muddled entanglement rather than in a love that’s pure & free & real. I’ve managed to gain a sense of completeness on my own throughout our time together which has enabled me to give you what you deserve.

Now do not read my words and think the worst, I am not breaking up with you my love. For the first time, I’m ready to stop seeking completeness like I’ve done in many previous relationship encounters, in being one-half of a whole. I’m ready to start being that person I’m meant to become, the one whose whole and complete on my own and who you can’t help but love irresistibly, the person who you truly deserve. Our time has come, I’m ready. I do not seek to be completed by you my love, Instead, I want you to add a new and beautiful depth to the completeness I already have.

With that being said I want to promise you this, I may not yet know all of the difficulties that come with a lifetime commitment, but I’m sure that the relationship experience I have should be sufficient to help me know what I want and how I picture my life with the person I will commit to (you). I promise to do my best to make you beam daily your smile will be my priority. I promise I will always look at you with the same adoration as I did the moment I realized I loved you.

I promise to always ignite the same sparkle in your eyes I see when you’re, inspired, motivated or when you are about to lean in to kiss me. I promise to hold your hand when we’re 80 years old (even though you’ve said you don’t plan on living past 40, I’m going to make sure you do!) with the same liveliness that I did when I crossed that line to hold yours for the first time at monte. I vow never to let the excitement of dating me die down, I will surprise you with the location, the reason or the activity itself. I promise to keep you guessing where we’re going next (As I know you love to travel and explore.)  I promise to do my best always to interest you. I will keep reinventing myself, gaining new hobbies, new knowledge and new interests to keep you and myself  entertained because you’re worth it. I promise to have new stories to share with you, and maybe retell the best ones again if you insist.

Our friendship will continue to grow over the years. I vow to challenge you to challenge yourself for the better as I know how much you want to dominate the world, to make you think differently. I promise to feed off of your illuminating energy that will inspire me to do the same with myself. I will do my best to ensure that being bored never crosses your mind ever again. Even in grief and darkness, I promise to show you the different shades of the dark, and to help you find the tiny rays of light that are always there if you seek them. After all, there’s always worse than worst and better than best, everything is relative. I promise to kiss you throughout our life together, with the same passion I had the first time I felt my lips on yours as I asked you to kiss you on the roof top at monte on our first date. When we kiss, I want it to slow down time just you and me engulfed in our feelings & our world.

I promise to do my best to remain physically attractive for you, and I will do my best to be healthy in order to keep up with our children and grandchildren I promise to help you to be healthy, both physically and mentally (not to say that you aren’t). I will cook and clean for us. Expect the best breakfast: traditional armenian tomato and pepper omelets, followed by fruit salad with breakfast punch… well, I can’t give all the secrets out. I promise to strive to be a role model for our children. I want both you and them to see me as a source of motivation. I want to inspire them in the same way you’ve been inspired. I promise to do my best to love your family as you love them and to be by their side as much as I am by yours. I promise to always listen to you when you simply just want to be heard, when you want someone to vent to about something or when you want advice. I will listen to you especially when you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with anybody else, and to the things you try to tell me when you’re not even speaking. I promise to always listen.

During our life together, I promise to make sure that you feel as though you are the center of the household I know you will be, and I will always  show my appreciation for you because of that. Being the man of the house is nothing without a woman. I promise never to let my guard down in taking care of us. I know you won’t be one to be satisfied with the bare minimum because world domination isn’t a mediocre task. I promise to do everything that I can for you without taking away from your independence physically, intellectually or emotionally. I promise to create family traditions and to make sure that your legacy lives forever through our children.

I promise to encapsulate the moment when I realize that I am in the most magnetic, amorous and erotic love with you, not to let that feeling dissipate to the best of my ability and to relive it with you constantly, always, forever.

Say it. Mean it. Don’t run from it.

I was nervous. I must have changed my outfit a good 5 or 6 times. I don’t know why my friends had decided to pick this party of all the usual turn ups that we’d normally go to. Crop top and skirt. No it doesn’t match. Crop top and shorts – I’m trying too hard. Crop top and jeans, why am I wearing a crop top at all? I ended up getting so frustrated and just put on what I’d been wearing the whole day. Just before I left, I grabbed his ring which sat on my dresser. Obviously it was to return it, but there was no harm in wearing it tonight.

I didn’t want to think about seeing him there. I didn’t want to think about why I cared what I looked like. I distracted myself on the drive to the party with wonderfully misogynistic hip hop which spoke to my soul about bad bitches and twerking. Arriving at the party, I was immediately put at ease when I saw that he and our mutual friend hadn’t arrived yet. The atmosphere was incredible and I ran into so many old friends, colleagues and of course my closest mates. I then realised however, that as it got later into the afternoon, I was bound to run into him. There was only one answer – tequilla.

Back in forth I went, with a new friend each time grabbing a shot. It didn’t mean anything – I just wanted to have a good time. Beer. Tequilla. Beer. Tequilla. Oh this was fun. There were plenty of cute boys eyeing me – it was easy to paste on a friendly smile, but before anyone of them could get to comfortable, I found a reason to excuse myself. Just as the sun was sitting, my friend had arrived. I immediately started looking for Bugz, standing on my tip toes and searching for that trade mark bun. I spotted her and hurried over, she was standing by the bar and jumped on her giving her the hugest hugs. We were gushing over each other and giggling and hugging, and as I pulled away I realised he was standing there.

He looked so good – I was thrown by that. Why wasn’t he a mess? Why didn’t he look as miserable or as nervous as I felt? I felt time slow down as I was trying to process this. There was definitely an uneasy feeling between us, as I leaned in for an awkward hug. I could smell his woody scent, I could feel he had been working out. I thought I’d feel nothing after these 3 weeks, but everything was sensed at that moment. I wanted him. And I had thrown it all away.

This wasn’t going to work – I couldn’t be in his presence. I wasn’t ready. Due to my level of intoxication there were only a few ways that could go… I act crazy and embarrass myself, throw myself at him and look like a fool or do what I usually do and run. I tried to find my friends, but they were all busy with their respective hook ups.  I found myself returning to Bugz and him, the sun was setting and I was barely listening to Bugz as our eyes kept catching each other’s attention and starting. There were no smiles. Just stares.

We decided to dance, however that misogynistic hip hop I was listening to earlier had no appeal. I couldn’t dance ratchet when less than a metre away stood  a guy I shared Ella Fitzgerald and Common and Flight Facilities with. I ended up uncomfortably shifting my weight from side to side and watching him out of the corner of my eye.

He was drinking a lot- and he wasn’t a big drinker. What was that, his 6th or 7th beer? His 5th smoke? I didn’t like it, but who was I to like it or not? It was about this time that he and I were vying for Bugz attention, using her like spy to recon on eachother. What did he say? How is he? Poor girl, caught up in all of this.

It was time to check in with my other group of friends, and I left but they had disappeared somewhere so I was forced to return to Bugz and him again. However he was talking to a girl – she was beautiful, about my height but all smiles and flawless skin. He looked happy, his arms were on her shoulders and they were laughing. I walked away. This was not good – I didn’t want to see him happy, especially with someone else. My friends were teasing me earlier in the day about how I could look so miserable when I was the one who had put an end to things, how could I be so emotional over someone who I had only been with for 2 months. These were the questions I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about, I was supposed to be having fun – clearly he was.

No, I had to go back. We were all going to have shots, but I really shouldn’t drink anymore. I suggested a selfie instead. One of my friends grabbed my phone and aimed the screen at our group.

My heart stopped.

I watched as my reflection watched stunned at the left of the screen where he was kissing that smiling girl on the cheek. That smiling girl wasn’t me. But everything about that pose and that kiss was mine, well it was supposed to be mine. We used to take pics like that all the time, with his head resting on my shoulder, and me (well her now) beaming with so much excitement. I locked eyes with him through the screen – I saw his surprise. I knew that he hadn’t realised I was there. Selfie moment over I grabbed my phone and knew I had to get away. There was just so much pain and confusion over how I was feeling. Why was I feeling this way?

He reached out to grab me but I pulled away angrily. Bugz tried to call me back but I had yelled something about needing to get out of here right now. But to where? This party was in the middle of no where, I didn’t know where my friends were. Drinking again seemed like the only option. I took the long way round back to the bar, and stood in the queue. He appeared suddenly next to me, and I turned my head to the side, foolishly hoping he wouldn’t see me. We were close to each other, I couldn’t exactly hide.

“So you’re not going to talk to me?” … I can’t remember my reply, all I remember is wanting to hurl accusations, shout at him, hit at his chest, ignore him, hug him, kiss him, hold him. Say I’m sorry. I ordered us two tequillas and then lead him to a quiet dark place to sit and talk.

He said a lot, he said so much and he said all the right things. Things that scared me, things that made me run in the first place.  I had a decision to make, flight or fight. In all that confusion, I started crying – which I hated myself for. Because I wasn’t crying in a moment of weakness but because I had achieved a moment of clarity. That I wanted, this that I wanted him. He was enough and worth the risk to make me stay.

Somewhere between the tears and the hugs and the kisses I said it, but he didn’t hear me. That was okay, I was saying it more for myself more than anything. But was we left, I said it again for us now.

And after that night, I knew I would never run again.

From Adam to the Gods… I’ve walked side by side with all

I have been travelling a very long time – but my gait wasn’t always so laboured, my strength so forced. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve come to be here, but the story is sketchy, parts distinguished only by those who I  happened to be travelling and who helped or hindered me along the way. It’s not a love story, it’s not a parable, it’s an account from my extremely subjective point of view.

It is about how I wound up, walking through their Inferno. 

“Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge!” – Robert G. Ingersoll, The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Vol. Iii

Every Eve has an Adam- not necessarily her first but her genesis into a new story. Adam didn’t want me at first. Story of every girl’s life, there was another. But I befriended him and drew him in and eventually he was mine. Or so I thought. You see, Adam had a few issues. It could have been his one-rib-less inadequacy but Adam would blow hot and cold. I became his everything and with that, my behaviour was dictated to me, our ever-lasting planned. I put up with it, I mean my experience with men was minimal, him being the only one on Earth and everything, so I figured this overbearing nature was normal. But I always wondered what lay beyond the garden… surely there was more to my life than a luxurious episode of Survivor.

I went for a walk, near the edge of garden. I hadn’t travelled so far before but what I saw amazed me. So many paths were available to me, that diverged and intertwined and separated again. Paths that were far from the nicely laid out walkways that I was used to. The path abruptly ended, leading me towards a large tree. It was so massive, I couldn’t see around it. The branches too high, I didn’t dare climb it.

The wind rustled and shook the branches. I watched a gloriously red, shiny apple drop down from the bough. It hit the grass with a gentle thud and rolled away, around the roots of the tree, until I could just see it on the other side. I’d never seen anything like it, it was destined for me. I had to tell him. I ran back to the gardens. Adam sat languidly, admiring his surrounds. His life had not been changed like mine. After much coaxing, I took him back to the tree and tried to show him where the fruit had fallen.

At first he insisted that he could not see it, but after my insistence he began to feign interest. That was when I told him that I wanted to walk around the tree – leave the path,  pick up the fruit and try it. Adam thought me made- how could I leave the comfort of my home for the unknown. I was ungrateful, I traitor. I assured him that it wasn’t like that, that I had to see for myself if there was a better life out there than in here. His hazel eyes were hurt, as he acquiesced to by desire for adventure. Then he suggested that he come with me to see too. I could tell he didn’t want to, that he saw it as an obligation. But that was not why I recoiled and took a step back. This was my apple, I had found it. It was my desire to see the world not his. How dare he think he could share what was so sacredly mine? I realised then that there was no space on my journey for a companion. That day I left the garden, I picked up the fruit but chose not to eat it. Carrying it proudly against my body. I felt naked, but never more alive.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”

The sign made me chuckle as I walked passed it. It was so sensational. You cannot lose hope from entering the unknown. I was in fact invigorated, hopeful that I was about to learn everything to my hearts desire and live through experiences never before felt.  I revelled in my new found freedom for a while, enjoying my social isolation and surrounding myself with all things beautiful and wonderful.

One night I wandered beneath a full moon- the fragrance are jasmine drugged me and I felt powerful and more like a woman than ever before. As I walked amongst the blooms, I came across a woman picking a stem and smelling with such a radiant look of ecstasy. It was such an intimate act I looked away blushing. I couldn’t help looking back and my eyes met piercing dark brown ones. They looked amused, intense and curiosity. She was so strong, so confident and sure. I’d never seen another woman, a person, the likes of her before. Silently, she offered me her hand and we danced, and danced underneath the moonshine, in a field of jasmine and sharing curious glances.

Her name was Persephone, and she was my guide into the underworld. The sign I had dismissed marked the entrance into hell- into a world unknown, into a cosmos of adventure and mystery. She called me Artemis, even though I told her that was not my name. She said it didn’t matter,  that no one here was who they seemed, but who we wanted to be. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different. Artemis, I found out, meant that I was strong, that I couldn’t be touched without permission and that I embraced womanhood and power. I liked that, those were ideals that seemed wise to embrace. From a wanderer I became a warrior, championing crusades with Persephone guiding me all the way. She awakened my thoughts, my questions and drew out within me, my anger at the world, at my confinement and my desire to be free. We met fellow thought leaders, Socrates and Homer, Cicero and Ceasar. I felt welcomed, I belonged to something greater than myself. I had purpose.

Oh she was amazing- so wonderful that I showed her the apple I had been carrying from the beginning. She marvelled at it, as if it was a prize, with such cautious desire. I offered her a bite. She took it. And then she shared it with me. The taste was heavenly. I’d been transported, I ascended over 6 feet – out of body and out of mind.

For much time I stayed with Persephone. However the sense of adventure waned and I begun to feel like I had stayed too long. We made each other so unhappy. She couldn’t leave the limbo we had found ourselves in, and I didn’t know if I could dedicate my life to being stuck in an in-between. Actually I did know, and the answer was that I couldn’t. So I left.

“Curiosity is the lust of the mind” – Thomas Hobbes

I should admit that I had an indiscretion. As I said, purgatory was not for me. During an argument with Persephone, I ran away.

He introduced himself to me as Amun. Amun was strong and funny, full of life with many consorts. He thought himself king of his world and many women agreed. To me he was “the hidden one” who didn’t necessarily provide me answers to what I was seeking, but gave me more questions. He was a friend, and then he was more and he had the power to make me overlook my morals and explore a darkness that I had not thought about before. With a presence that could be described as lion-like, I felt bewitched within his harem. I was a fool for what he could show me, a fool to my body, to touches, to desire. I had joined the harem of Cleopatra and Helen.

But with my actions came with consequences. Persephone discovered that I had entered the second circle and her fury and mistrust came down upon me like a tornado. All the we attempted to mend our relationship, it never reclaimed that wonderful experience that was. My relationship with Amun was never meant to be anything more – we both recognised that. Eventually we became friends, until he felt that ascended to greater things than I. But he will always remain an important reminder of my flaws.

“Curiosity is gluttony. To see is to devour.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After leaving purgatory, for what I’d decided was the last time, I continued on my travels. The questions that Amun had point in my mind needed answers and for that to happen I had to explore my own darkness and my own ideas of sin.

And when you are open to that, Dionysus will find you. Oh he was everything, everything that was opposite to what I needed. He brought humour to my serious world, boldness to my inhibition. We feasted on selfishness and worldly pleasures. Our gluttonous acts sated my curiosity again and again. It was a wild party everyday with women and men coming together to in a common goal of self-servitude.  We ate until we could eat no more and then ordered seconds. Life was a buffet for our enjoyment and taking. My apple was less shiny but there were those who I wished for them to enjoy in my discovery. Apple pies, toffee apples, sorbet and appletinis – what a feast!

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” – Erich Fromm

I alternated often between the banquet and another new discovery of a treasure trove. Here Pluto entertained me. We lived lavish lives where those we met were for our entertainment. Even when I thought I was satisfied, it became amusing to make a mockery of those who accidently joined our parties.  It was all in jest – there was no guilt.  But the addiction of needing constant entertainment weighed on us and I found myself pushing further and further the limits that were hardly set in stone in the first place. Lust was mistaken for lust. Enemies were mistaken for friends. But in this whirlpool of false pleasure, it is easy to be mistaken and stray from the path.

Which is what happened. And I will never make that mistake again.

“Now pierced is her virgin zone;
She feels the foe within it.
She hears a broken amorous groan,
The panting lover’s fainting moan,
Just in the happy minute.”  – John Wilmot

I knew him as Hades, he was often spoken about with disdain and no good will. Hades was pleasant to me, not a friend but hardly an enemy either. One night after a banquet, he offered to transport me across the river Styx. In that moment I recognised Hades for what he was, the Devil, Lucifer.

In that rickety wooden boat he took every sinful desire I had been celebrating and used them against me. With greed, lust and gluttony and a certain new anger he took it all away from me- my ability to explore, my curiosity and my hope. There were so many bodies around but no one could or would hear my screams… all inebriated or  sated by their hedonistic lifestyles. When I was throne off the boat, I battled to rise. I dragged myself along the embankment, not quite sure of what to do next, what I was looking for or needed.

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” – Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV

I fell. I was lost, and I had travelled so far from comfort and from what I knew. No one would believe me if I spoke on what had happened in the 5th circle. I was a heretic – how could a hedonist possibly be telling the truth. There were flames everywhere, licking at my body as kept falling through the darkened tomb.

I committed violent acts to myself, destroying all forms of my identity and relationships in the process.

I met Poseidon and he helped me up and travelled with me for a while. I told him my story and he made me promises about exploring the sea together. But like the change in tide, Poseidon wasn’t there to stay long – betrayal never stops hurting.

Apollo swoops in and out of my life but he is honest about where he is at and how he wants to explore and discover greatness on his own.

I’m not sure why I felt I needed to put down my journey… maybe its because I’ve travelled so far, the only way to turn is back. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure which pathway I’m supposed to take next. Or maybe it’s because it’s time to rest for a while. I’m tired…so tired…

I shall not fear no man but God, though I walk through the valley of death, I shed so many tears (if I should die before I wake), please God walk with me.