Impulsive Writing (21)

What does it mean to care?
(A snake without hair?)

Meeting another’s needs,
where does it start,
and where does it stop?
Does anyone really care,
or is it all thin air?

Like books on a shelf,
seething between covers
to be read, but only used
for decoration instead.

Getting needs met, or not?
Depends on who’s being asked,
or told. And when.
So what does it mean?
Not much, it seems.

Like the wind, it comes and
goes. And always feels coldest
when you’re wearing no clothes.

If there’s a moral it’s this:

Want only what you can get,
and give only what you can.

Don’t trade birds in bushes
for those in your hand.

If you’d like to give or get more,
that’s what dreams are for.

* * *



The ‘down under’ film Alexandra’s Project is a must see…if you can tolerate an unclothed rendition of reality.

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19 comments on “Impulsive Writing (21)

  1. I haven’t seen this film but have read the poem a few times now. And I wonder, is this something you believe? While I feel the angst of unmet need, I’m not sure I agree with the moral(though I do see both sides). How can you know what you can get until you reach for it? ‘Want only what you can get’ echoes with the thought ‘Settle’. The yearn can lead to sorrow or disillusionment, certainly… but it can also lead to more than what you can currently see. Pay the price. Pay the price. Let the heart break a million times just to encounter the rare moment when it doesn’t. And should you be in shambles at the end, who’s to care. You lived.

  2. “…is this something you believe?”

    Not really (at least as written). It began (as do all the “Impulsive” pieces here) with a sentence. And that particular sentence (“What does it mean to care?”) immediately came to mind after watching the film “Alexandra’s Project.” The rest flowed from the question(s) provoked by the film’s central theme (i.e., “Things are not always what they seem”). And “Settle” is effectively how the film resolves(?) the situational conflict it depicts.

    I VERY strongly suggest that you (especially) take the time to watch it. Once past the beginning (which is a little slow), I think you (in particular) will see how warped and conflicted beliefs vs. reality (for most) can be. Then let me know how you would interpret the difference between ‘caring’ and ‘needing’ within the context of a typical ‘relationship.’ Also, of the two characters depicted, which do you feel, at the end, ‘cared’ most (if at all) about the other? Or is it all an illusion (i.e., ‘caring’ is just ‘needing’ in disguise)?

  3. Ok… So I have watched this movie now and have to mull it over a bit. The question you present, caring vs. needing came far down on my list of provoked thoughts. To me, this movie screamed gender differences. And I have to think who cared the most… what one will do when one’s heart is shattered can never be predicted.

  4. “…this movie screamed gender differences.”

    Yes. It ‘screams’ reality. There really is a difference between the sexes. One that continually seethes (if suppressed) just below the surface, despite layers of cultural illusions/delusions that attempt to mask it.

    The example in the film underscores the resultant warping of expectations, and consequent behavior: “F**k you! I don’t care, because you don’t. Or didn’t!”

    So…the question remains: “What does it mean to care?” Does she (did she) ‘really’ care about him? Does he (did he) ‘really’ care about her? Did they ever? Or are they (were they) simply using each other (or at least trying) to satisfy needs?

    Or is it both?

    Of course the film exploits a volatile example of that dynamic. Yet at the same time underscores our boundless capacity to “not see the forest for the trees.”

    The moral: Until one steps beyond ‘rooting’ for one side or the other, only then can one understand and hopefully step into the larger reality that lies beyond the ‘playing of a game.’

    Or is that ‘wishful’ thinking?

  5. “Meeting another’s needs,
    where does it start,
    and where does it stop?”

    It starts when the two begin to overlap. It stops when the “two roads diverging a yellow wood” part again. And in between there is an ocean of poetry like yours materialized in the mornings and evenings of solitude of everyday life. I am currently on psychiatric medication to overcome the “caring for others” complex. While taking my pills, I cannot help but ask myself: So what are these drugs supposed to do? Restore me to an artificial persona I never was? Kill the other inside me so that I might be free to finally kill myself (metaphorically)? Finally, I wish to voice one more thought. You are never either on the one side, or on the other. Schizophrenia is what actually makes us humane.

  6. “You are never either on the one side, or on the other. Schizophrenia is what actually makes us humane.”

    A very thought-provoking way of qualifying our ‘humaneness.’ Yet I’m not sure how ‘being on neither side’ applies to the dynamic between two people as is depicted in Alexandra’s Project. Could you elaborate? I’m very interested in your take on that, and if you’ve had any similar experience(s).

  7. OK, I will try to make some sense of what I said. When I state that we are never either on the one side or on the other (applied specifically to this “caring about/for/of smb/smth” problem), I mean that we always care in two ways simultaneously: 1. we genuinely care about the other, up to the point where we would literally give our lives for them (happened to me); 2. we care in order to be cared for (happened to me, too). Egoism and altruism are essentially inseparable. When you give a beggar money or your lunch in the street, half of you does it out of real concern and the other half out of an overpowering need for self-satisfaction. You don’t need to be Freud or Strauss to realize that everything you do for others is most of the time directed towards your own ego. Love is always the chief example. Now, as to the personal experience part. It is excruciatingly difficult for me to remember and talk about certain things. It’s been a month, nine days, and four hours since I willingly broke up with my fiance, who was the only love of my earthly life. I loved and love him beyond imagination. Beyond words. And beyond this pain that is eating away at who I am. I loved him for himself just as much as I loved him for me. And I wanted to save him, half for himself, and half for my own mother complex. I broke up with him telling him: “I am leaving you just as you left a long time ago”. Which is the same as saying I don’t care because you don’t. I left him out of despair, and rage, and impotence. And now I am with a wonderful man, which I will never be able to love as he deserves (and who in his turn watches my self-destruction). And so the wheel of affection is spinning again. And I am underneath it, bleeding to death.

  8. I DO TOUCH BRIEFLY ON SOME SCENES IN THESE COMMENTS. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THESE NOTES.

    So I’m finally coming back to these thoughts. I did want to respond to the question “who cared more?” I genuinely think she did. And at first I couldn’t figure out why I was convinced of that but as it settled into my mind I realized it was because of the sheer venom with which she left. Only love can turn to hate that strong. It was the fact that while she appeared apathetic, there was nothing apathetic about the way she chose to annilihate him.

    Initially she does give him one more chance to ‘see’ her. First thing in the morning, she asks him to let her pay the bills. Such a small moment… but one in which she was tettering. In hindsight, his whole world was resting on that one simple moment. If she no longer cared, she wouldn’t even have offered him that.

    Finally, in the closing scenes, when he is rewatching the massacre, it is telling WHAT scene he chooses to replay. She TALKS to him throughout. She tells him about herself. She smiles in places. She is real and alive in many places. Yet he replays the one section where she is simply being used. Just as he, in her perception, had done to her.

    I think in this instance, it was he who finally succumbs to the nothingness of I don’t care cause you don’t. I think she did and, in the end, does care. Only her affections have turned into something ugly and spitting.

    It’s as I said earlier: Only love (rejected and maimed) can turn to hate that strong.

  9. “Only love…can turn to hate that strong.”

    Still, why did she not directly confront him long before it reached that stage? He might have said, “I don’t give a shit how you feel.” But he might have instead responded with genuine care. Especially if he knew about her feelings of unrequited love.

    In other words, when did she let him know that ‘bill-paying’ was just symbolic of much deeper disquiet?

    Is not hatred quite often a result of introversion gone wild? And is not introversion a tell-tale symptom of needing more than one has to give? Was she not, in other words, “going through the motions” of caring, in lieu of disclosing the full extent of her unmet needs…well before those feelings devolved into hatred?

    Sure, hatred seems to be an ‘accepted’ consequence of unrequited love. But my question is: Was it love? Or only a twisted variation thereof?

  10. ‘Is not introversion a tell-tale symptom of needing more than one has to give?’ Such an interesting thought. I’d never considered it that way. I tend to be an introvert myself (would you have guessed?) and your question rings so true to me. Truthfully, to truly come to any conclusion on that one requires more introspection than I have on the subject.

    The details of her caught my attention so much… so it’s easy for me to recall the beginning of her thoughts to him when she says, “you’ve known for some time I haven’t been happy…” and he rolls his eyes and fast forwards the video. At that very moment (and aware of the outcome), I thought to myself, he deserves whatever it is gets… just for that dismissive, careless moment.

    Could it be possible that it was love? In the first hours… and like most relationships, the push and pull of need twisted into something dark and unsatisfying. Like one of those taffy pullers… twisting and turning and pulling until something else entirely emerges.

  11. “unaware of the outcome”… and to add to that, he stops when she starts to undress. I found that whole scene hits too close to everything that goes wrong between the genders.

  12. “…everything that goes wrong between the genders.”

    Yes! And what is it beyond initial attraction that can go ‘right’ (and how so, rather than only…and beyond..what’s pretended to be)?

  13. Genders, right, wrong, caring or not caring. If we stopped philosophizing and started LOVING more (with all that implies), we would finally come across a satisfactory end, not answer, to all of these questions.

  14. Wait a minute! You trying to spoil the party?! Did you check the ‘Maturity’ requirements posted above the door? If you’ll look carefully, you’ll notice it says “NO GROWNUPS ALLOWED!” We’re here to endlessly argue over the many exciting differences between us that cause the problems, not to resolve them…much less make them go away. Yuk! Where’s the fun in that?!

  15. OK, I’ve descended one floor to Graphic Stimulation 6 and had my maturity subscription shredded. I also formatted user to ‘do not allow lecturing thoughts to access vocal chords or fingertips’. And I have brought along my teddy bear and pink ruffles. I’m all set and ready for the fun. Bring it on! ;-)

  16. “…had my maturity subscription shredded.”

    Glad to hear it! And now that’s done, WELCOME TO THE PARTY!!!

    Care for anything to drink? (It will help to blur your vision…and keep it that way. ;-)

  17. You know, there’s this Romanian saying that most of our men are more familiar with than the Pater Noster: “Avoid hangovers. Stay drunk.”

    I think for the time being I will stick to the Pater Noster. But I won’t say no to a nice glass of Chablis. Do you have some candles and blue eyes to go with it?

  18. To care is to empower, celebrate, and free another. Rather than asking which of them cared more, I would ask, did either of them care? My answer would be no.

    I experienced the video-within-the-film as a “we need to talk” moment, a moment she never had before because he wouldn’t allow her to speak. “We need to talk” always hits me wrong; it almost inevitably corners the person being told that into a lose/lose situation. The one needing to talk is ready to play the blame game; the one being told of the need is doing ‘it’ wrong, not meeting the other’s needs, leaving the other feeling unloved. Yes or no, yes and you’ll end up in an argument, no and you’ve closed the door on working it out.

    In the movie, she abandoned herself by seeking self-validation from him. She felt she needed this validation to feel secure in herself.

    As for gender differences…when I signed up on that website in order to be able to watch that film, I had to check a box, indicating my gender. Until we remove all of those boxes from our lives, we will continue sending the subtle or not so subtle message that gender matters. If it doesn’t matter, then we have to reconstruct our society from the bottom up to reflect that.

    We cannot reprogram our brains to stop reflecting, categorizing, and comparing (unless we consider a collective lobotomy?)because these are basic learning/survival mechanisms. But we can start trying to think of ourselves as human first and a particular gender second, or only during appropriate times…

    I am not ‘rooting’ for either side. I’m rooting for both sides. I don’t think either ever truly cared, they both were working from defective psyches, trying to get needs fulfilled in dysfunctional ways.

    To end this comment on a positive note, yes, I do believe with patience and clear communication on a daily basis, it is possible for two people to truly care about each other. It won’t be easy to break free of all that social conditioning, it will take work, kindness, openness, fearlessness, and compassion, but if the will is there, there is a way.

    William: “Is not hatred quite often a result of introversion gone wild? And is not introversion a tell-tale symptom of needing more than one has to give?” Bingo. You hit it right on the head.

    Fear of rejection. Fear of whatever, keeps us each silent. When one becomes complete in oneself, there is no fear, you can speak up, and you are giving the most precious gift of all to the beloved. In any relationship, each person needs to be able to see themselves clearly and move into compassion for their feelings. From there, they each are able to take loving care of themselves.

    Imagine what that feels like – back to the top of this little diatribe – mutual freedom, empowerment, and celebration of love.

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