By the Sheer Force of My Will

(August 8th, 2011; revised April 1, 2012)

I just want to grab some people and shake them with a perfect blend of vigor, urgency and compassion and say “Listen to me; it doesn't have to be like this. You can have what you want. For that matter, you can know what you want. You can seek it and obtain it. You can establish a plan of action and you can implement this plan. You can make it this way. You can make yourself how you want to be. You can surround yourself with people who appreciate and complement you and bring out such traits ever-further. You can even work together with these people for some of the goals you share. You have more influence than you know!” And because they probably won’t genuinely take this gesture to heart, I wish I could transport some of my will somehow across the space between our minds and help them in the ways that I know they can be helped. If only they would open up the door, or at least unbolt it.

But I have only so much influence on another person by the sheer force of my own will, as powerful as this is. Someone needs only to be willing to pursue similar wavelengths to open potential’s door to infinity—but it takes two… and I am (as everyone is) only one. Yet every time I close my eyes she behaves exactly how I wish she would and we are doing together precisely what I believe we should. I at least have this power. This power can make so much difference within the fantasies of hopes and dreams, but means next to nothing in reality if the other does not reciprocate in some way. And so if I’m sitting out on my back porch, enjoying my own company, then the act of closing my eyes and spreading my mind’s wings brings as much hopeful thought as I could possibly care to allow. And this ability we all have is so truly incredible, and I cherish this ability with every fiber of my being. In imagination you can have absolutely whatever you want. But it doesn’t bring anything tangible, as only another person can. It doesn’t help to actually bring this person forth and willing to share their undivided attention with you. And so again it comes down to the incredible depths of the communications between two people who are each dealing with the wild complexities of their lives and their own minds and pursuits therein. But an overlap of pursuits holds immeasurable potential if only two people can merge their devotions in such a way to hunt it down together. And there is absolutely every possibility for this to be real, the wildest dreams realized, a fairy tale incarnate, even in the most apparently troubling cases. 

But she hesitates… they hesitate, even best friends hesitate, forever hesitating, so often seeming too reluctant to make just that little bit more of a connection which could bridge whatever gaps are keeping each other from enjoying some goal both know the other shares. And so I’ve been left for so long in this awkward position, trying to gauge what’s real among all of these connections I hold so dear and what is only a figment of my own wild imagination. 

I wonder endlessly what is it really that holds a person back from pursuing the most promising of pursuits? Of course there are potentially many, many legitimate reasons for this. But what are these reasons in each specific case? Are they really so severe to just shy away from anything more meaningful than the barest, most shallow sharing? I think in most of these cases they are unnecessarily extreme feelings of reservation, considering all the beauty that is there for the sharing and all the people that have every reason to provide for you (and for themselves) this everlasting connection. I am of course pointing at both romantic interests and friendly interests. Although the former is generally much more dramatic of a case, they really do share almost every sense of this idea. Just as romantic partners need to connect and share their thoughts and their interests and their devotions to each other, so do friends. Interests still need to be shared, devotions still need to be expressed. Their context is different, of course, but don’t let the connections slip away because what you think is a true friendship needs no maintenance.

Not everybody is out to hurt you. In fact, I would argue with anybody that the number of people that are likely out to hurt you is a miniscule fraction of what seems apparent on the surface. And among those people who have really hurt another, surely only a small fraction of them actually set out with the intention to do so. The vast majority of cases are probably unfortunate circumstances, perhaps even fallout resulting from the disasters of the very mindsets I’m trying to disclaim. Despite any number of emotionally abusive experiences somebody might have been through, this in no way speaks for everybody else. It only speaks for those specific cases. And while such an assortment of terrible experiences certainly does need to provide you with some degree of logic, and reason, and an understanding of the factors that played out in this way (most importantly so that you can recognize them sooner next time), they do not condemn every other human being on the face of the planet to inherently behave in the same manner. And this is where attitude, experience, and judge of character most importantly come into play. You want to avoid the oh-so-loathsome jerks as early as possible, of course, but you also need to be able to recognize a genuine, heartfelt interest if it happens to wander by. And so your standards need to be suited to the best combinations that you feel are worth your time pursuing. Caution is extremely important! But the general ratio between reservation and willingness is woefully lopsided in most of the cases I’ve seen.

Richard Marx sings this idea rather beautifully in his song “Loved” when he says “What good is being strong and hiding in some harbor if you and I end up all alone?” Being “strong” is a useful safety mechanism, for sure, but it should not be so extreme that nobody can ever truly get through to you. At another point in the song he sings “The two of us, we’re really children hiding underneath the armor that we wear.” And we are all children, in the sense that we have these base instincts, these ingrained desires to find those true romances and those deepest friendships. And what keeps us from them, so often, is this armor that we all construct over ourselves as we mature, perhaps usually either in response to an emotional tragedy or in anticipation of one. It can be so easy to let this coating of armor get out of hand and ultimately end up keeping everybody at such a distance that they can’t genuinely make a deep connection with you. Then you’ve traded one extreme for the other, because while it’s true that when nobody can get close to you nobody can hurt you so deeply, it’s also true that you will no longer enjoy such rewarding relationships.

It is so frustrating to be, in essence, paying for the mistakes of so many others in the past. This is what it feels like when, time after time, a person ultimately decides against any further pursuit out of the fear of a repeated occurrence from their own history. And I try my best to understand… I truly do, but my understanding can only go so far when I am standing here with my arms and my heart and my mind held so wide open and I’ve advanced as far as I can on my own terms alone. When I am utterly and completely ready to take a risk and take hold of what seems so ready and real and so full to bursting with potential, then it’s all clear as day to me. It’s time to make something more of this highest of possible beauties right here in front of us. But no amount of the most genuine showcases of deeply felt and deeply longed-for emotions and desires that a person is absolutely ready and willing to confide in and with another can truly convince them if they are, in the end, just not willing to give up the time of day. The sheer force of will is only going to ricochet off of a mind completely closed to a new idea. In this case it’s just not enough… and it can never be enough as long as this remains the case. It is a futile endeavor, has always been and will always be, whether or not you realize this is the case. What good is your puny willpower against the awesome might of a powerfully sheltered mind?

I want to cut her chains. I want to set her free from her fears and her constant hesitation. And it’s not just for the end result of romantic companionship… no, I genuinely want to help rid her of this, these fears and reservations and hesitations, even if I am not the object of her wildest dreams come true (as nice as that would be)… because I know that it’s unnecessary, this hesitant mind-set. I know that she’d willingly appreciate more if she willingly believed that such a thing was still possible. I know that this would benefit her at least as much as it would benefit me. And I have my laser chain cutter, right here in my hand, charged up and prepared, all set to go. I am ready and willing to do this. But I have to be able to get close enough to her, for it is only effective at so much range. Willpower alone can do nothing to free her. I need access to her.

When there is a rift between two people, a gaping chasm separating them by some daunting distance, then no amount of sheer willpower—although within one’s mind this is all they need—will close this gap and bring them into each other’s arms. They need to actually act, together, to bridge their interests and desires. One alone is not ever going to be enough to do this; at the very least the other needs only to stand at the bitter edge to accept the final pieces of this bridge and plant them securely into the ground. Even if I am entirely willing to put every last bit of effort into this on my own, I still need that welcoming gesture on the other side. That open invitation is the most crucial piece of all. In the absence of even this small effort the poor person fighting so hard to construct a bridge into the other’s mind is going to fall every single time without a suitable foundation to latch on to.

And I understand (some of) the reservations. I understand that there is a fear of not having found the “right one” whether or not you think you may have found it at the time—because, well, there is always, in all likelihood, going to be someone who comes around eventually who is seemingly (on the surface) “better” than your current “investment”. It’s wildly unrealistic to ever think that you have found the absolute best possible person to share your life with. Although I respect the idea of a “soul mate” as far as the devotion and appreciation invoked are concerned, I do not believe that this concept is actually true—because you will never know! But there is a critical factor to consider here, which is that no matter how promising a passing interest (or even a somewhat-well-known interest) appears to be to you, outside your current devotion, this might all be an illusion. In all likelihood, they appear more “attractive” than they actually will be if you were to run off together for more than a single night. The “game,” in such cases, most of the time, changes drastically once it’s no longer a “game” to those involved—when one or both people want a long-lasting companionship. This is one of the most fundamental necessities, I think, for two people to genuinely appreciate what they share—that, even when another potential interest comes along, the risks of giving up what has proven itself to be a worthwhile and beautiful romantic (or friendly!) connection do not outweigh the risks of dropping it all for the chance of this spontaneous spark. Assuming that a partnership has its share of “good” and “bad,” (more good than bad, hopefully) then the effort put toward reinvigorating this current companionship should be far more advantageous than the effort put toward dropping it and actually successfully developing and maintaining a “better” one based on some random fling and its subsequent rush of emotions.

Personally, I don’t care much about “evolutionary advantage” or any other such nonsense that some (even respectable) proponents like to go on about. I understand the concepts. I understand (though I have disagreements) that a man is “evolutionally advantageous” by “sleeping around” with any number of women—if only because his genes pass on, and (assuming a heartless fling) he is not assumed to be responsible to any major degree. Whether any number of us owe our existence to such a mind-set of the past, we do not live in a foraging society anymore… at least as far as “we” refers to the people that I know and who might ever read this. I think much of the argument is lost on modern society, by the very values which we’ve established as most treasured and sought-after in response to this ever-changing world. Both parties benefit, in the long run (and especially when a family is introduced into the equation, whether in reality or as a mutual desire), by sticking together; through thick and thin, for better or worse. Emotions run rampant all over the place, and I have difficulty imagining that this was ever not the case. But of course I don’t know—I didn’t live in the distant past. I am biased by today’s society, where I feel so strongly that all troubles can be conquered with the right amounts of efforts from all parties involved. And this applies until one party really has lost the majority of this connection for some tragic reason. But, although this really does happen sometimes, one should think long and hard about what this decision entails, if they really do feel like this is truly the case. It very well might be the case, unfortunately, but this should be one of the very last resorts. It is oftentimes one-sided, this decision—and the sheer force of the “victim’s” will is powerless to overturn this decision once the other has already crossed over into hopelessness and abandon.

As the complexities of our minds grow and evolve, so do our depths of feelings and the capacities in which we share and indulge them. Maybe it’s true that monogamy is vastly more suited to women, if only (but not entirely) for their child-bearing responsibilities, but this in no way proscribes gentlemen to behave oppositely—because a woman (and especially a woman and child) benefits immensely by a genuine, trustworthy, dedicated man. And this is what is frustrating more than anything else—that the men least clearly suited to provide this assistance and true commitment are the ones—sometimes—seemingly most sought after. Despite all of my efforts and concentration to understand it, this apparent trend simply baffles me. But because the attraction is perhaps so rooted in evolutionary biology, there is only so much I can do to influence others onto the “right” path and only so much judgment I can place on those who have perhaps very little control over their subconscious drives. Again, willpower on its own does not induce the changes necessary to prove that this total commitment is the “right path” on which to march onward. Nevertheless, it is endlessly frustrating and it doesn’t need to be this way.

She (or anyone else) only needs to step off her throne long enough to open up a door, or a window, or… something. But it’s not going to happen, this time. If it ever might have been a real possibility then that time came and went, at some point I was utterly clueless of. I realize this now. And I realize that I should have realized this long ago. But it took an incredible blow to rattle my senses back to right, and that blow is still resonating in my core.

Because when I’ve raised myself up so high, and have brought this person up with me the whole way, over so long a time period with all this hope and determination and goodwill and the feelings I’ve been solidifying all the while, only to eventually realize that the other person has in reality stayed chained and rooted to the ground the whole time… it’s a truly staggering blow. I am struck by the realization that I carried this person up with me to such incredible, hopeful heights with nothing more than the sheer force of my will—which of course holds no actual power over the harshness of reality. I cannot will another to share this with me when they were never actually even there, no matter how deeply I had convinced myself otherwise. Their presence was only an intense illusion created by the very feelings I felt so deeply and truly believed that they were accepting all along. At this point all that I’ve built up below me, full of my cherished hopes and dreams, cannot withstand the force of the realization of this falseness. The pillar shatters at its foundations, and it all crumbles down, and I am helpless but to fall with the jagged pieces.

Falling is fatal from such height. And I’ve been falling for a while, now; such was the effort that I had invested. The crater I’d make if I fell all the way to the ground would be devastating from all this distance I’ve been tumbling through. It would probably destroy the vast majority of my hope’s potential, and I would perhaps become one of these very people who seem doomed to perpetually hesitate at the sight of potential’s inviting doorway—so obviously entranced by the glimpse of such beauty on the other side but forever unwilling to sacrifice for it, to take anything more than even the smallest forward step. And this frightens me more than almost anything else, because clearly I have such a deep appreciation for the way things should be, for the way that people can relate and embrace each other and each other’s deepest qualities. But that is not going to happen. Although the structure I built up in this pursuit was destroyed, the blueprint still originates within me, and these fundamental beliefs that are the building blocks of a friendly or a romantic interest have not been damaged so much that they are also destroyed. They just need to be retouched a little bit, revised so that I can spot this illusion if it ever creeps up again before I’ve set myself up to fail so crushingly. And so as soon as I reacquire my senses I will stretch out my wings at long last well before I reach the bottom. I’ll make my way back over to some peaceful, inviting, safer waters, where I can remain secure for a time until I feel like I can better judge the true character of the object of the next pursuit. I am ready for this to take as long as is necessary to actually succeed next time. And so for now I just need my very own wings to save me, because at the end of any deep thought process one must realize that this is all they can truly count on.

I am ready to fly. In fact, I can feel these magnificent wings beginning to unfurl at this very moment.

Posted by Eli Stanley | at 1:47 AM


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