Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Path to Freedom

Pretty Lady, in her wild, untrammelled, Bohemian life, often meets fascinatingly Progressive Thinkers. Pretty Lady being who she is, is always charmed. There is nothing she likes better than a late-night conversation about oft-misunderstood doctrines of seventeenth-century philosophy, and the tragic results of these misinterpretations extrapolated into the present day. She can really get her teeth into a good discussion about the Problem of Evil, the glamorization of misanthropy, and the crumbling edifice that is Modern Society.

Pretty Lady's fundamental problem in forming long-term friendships with these sorts of people, however, stems most unfortunately from these same roots. A person who views the flaws in Modern Society with a clear and jaundiced eye is inclined to reject all of its conventions wholesale. And Pretty Lady is pretty darn tired of supervising serial attempts to reinvent the wheel from scratch.

Because a nearly universal hallmark of this sort of Progressive Thinker is a categorical rejection of the notion of Commitment. 'A Trap!' he naturally, progressively thinks, as soon as he shudderingly considers the hellish tangles woven by Family, Society and Culture; 'I shall avoid it, and then I shall be Free! Free to Improve the World, living by my own inner guidance and unfiltered notions of Right and Wrong!'

Oh yes, Pretty Lady has heard it dozens of times before. And she sighs, hangs her head, and continues upon her unwilling and solitary Bohemian path. For the only true entrapment is the pathological need to keep all of one's options eternally Open.

This notion is, to the Progressive Thinker, so counterintuitive as to be utterly unconsidered. But to Pretty Lady, having been a dancer, it is and always has been obvious.

For freedom is Movement; Movement is Change; and to move and to change, a person has to put one foot in front of the other. Then--and pay attention--a person has to commit her entire weight to that foot in front, in order to lift the foot in the back, and move it to another place. In other words, without commitment, no movement is possible.

Pretty Lady felt this fact most acutely during the years she was hobbling around with an injured ankle. It is very difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other when one foot is not holding one's weight; progress is miserable and slow. During those days, Pretty Lady often thought of her unipedal condition as a metaphor, for being in relationship with a person who is permanently Undecided as to whether or not this thing is for him. Nothing could happen, nobody could go anywhere, because any new logistical situation required the re-negotiation of the entire affair.

This is not to say that a Free Thinker ought to commit her entire future on the basis of one late-night conversation, or even several. A true Progressive makes her commitments cautiously and carefully, after due consideration, plenty of time, and assembling of Facts. But then she must leap, she must spring, or she will never learn to Fly, which is the only reason anyone should ever take up dancing. A leap into the air requires trust, and a relinquishment of control. The commitment-phobic would-be Progressive never gets that far.

Furthermore, the fact of categorical commitment-avoidance does not mean that commitments are never made; it merely guarantees that such commitments are of the lesser-of-two-evils-at-gunpoint variety. For a refusal to decide is a decision in itself, and one that Pretty Lady inevitably will fly away from.

12 comments:

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

It would seem that their inability to commit is founded in the same mental soup that makes them Progressive Thinkers- that is a profound fear of flaws. In their thinking, in their relationships with other humans, in society. They can't decide on something that has a flaw. Fear of the imperfect, so to speak. Since others are imperfect, and love is imperfect, and life with another is WAY imperfect- heebie-jeebies, robot-it-does-not-compute breakdowns and quick escapes result. In advanced cases, resentment boils over into decidedly anti-social behavior.
Or so I've heard. Not too familiar with it myself, he lied none-too-convincingly.

Miss Introvert said...

having just experienced my first (and hopefully last) "Progressive Thinker, I think that judge well ye wolves (who is an excellent dissector of other people's psyche), seems to be a very valid explanation. Things went swimmingly when perfection was present, and after about 36 hours, imperfections would emerge and breakdown would begin. The same pattern every single time (a long distance "relationship" at that). Hm. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that a person whose guiding principle is to keep her options open, is a person who will avoid RSVPing for a dinner party in case something better comes along.

It seems to me that such people eventually stop getting invited to dinner.

Beck

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

Thank you, Introvert. I have an advanced degree in It Takes One to Know One.
I have, however, retired from the Pursuit of Perfection long ago. I am now pursuing the title of Most Flaws Ever, starting with my writing.

Miss Introvert said...

well judge wolves, i am certainly glad to see that some can eventually see the foolishness of their ways ;) though, i am very wary of expecting the aforementioned one to get a glimpse anytime soon. And what if the aforementioned one did? how would i respond? i suspect in ways that would surprise me, too, judge it-takes-one-to-know-one. sigh. what's a girl to do?

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

As Not a Girl, it would be difficult for me to say what to do. However, we have a font of wisdom (and consummate woman) easily to hand.
PL says-
"A true Progressive makes her commitments cautiously and carefully, after due consideration, plenty of time, and assembling of Facts. But then she must leap, she must spring, or she will never learn to Fly, which is the only reason anyone should ever take up dancing."
Her advice may be more germane, but I must caution, your mileage may vary.
As Just a Guy, I say you have cut your losses wisely. Congrats!

Miss Introvert said...

It was PL's "How to Leave a Loser" blog entry that got me going. It's all a work in progress!! :) Thanks for the words of wisdom!

danonymous said...

It has often seemed to me that an inability to commit often went hand in hand with not really being ready to commit on another person's scale.
I have sooooo often seen that inability erased when the "right" person comes along and/ or when the individual thought themselves ready.
"I am not ready to commit" could be much more accurate if the words "to you" were added for honesty and clarity.
This, of course, is not always the case. BUt I have found that it is more often the case than people are willing to take responsibility for saying, or responsibility for hearing.

prettylady said...

Of course that's true, Danny-o.

The thing is, that I have just as often, if not more often, heard these words used as a justification for:

1) enjoying the benefits of being in a committed or semi-committed relationship without taking on any of the responsibilities;

2) using an 'opposition to commitment' as leverage to get their own way every time there is an issue which requires compromise or negotiation, since 'the nuclear option' is always on the table;

3) wasting another person's precious and finite time and energy by nebulously and vaguely dangling the possibility of a 'future commitment, if everything goes the way I want it to' in front of her nose, when in reality they have no intention of ever doing so.

Furthermore, the excuses these people use for behaving this way generally have nothing to do with the facts of the relationship in question, because they are based on things that happened in that person's past, involving other and utterly dissimilar people. A man will act as though all women are clingy and dependent, or controlling and sadistic, because his mother was that way, no matter how independent, low-maintenance, kind and non-controlling his current girlfriend might be, for example.

The only way to deal with this kind of behavior is to walk away and mean it. Any attempt to negotiate within these parameters will be twisted around and railroaded to suit the non-committer's agenda.

danonymous said...

PL says.....
The only way to deal with this kind of behavior is to walk away and mean it. Any attempt to negotiate within these parameters will be twisted around and railroaded to suit the non-committer's agenda.

Exactly.....but the challenge always seems to be.....male or female/ to have the clarity and will to walk away from dangling carrots. I guess maybe that is, at best, a learning process entailing trial and error, pain and heartbreak, self-doubt, and eventually, the confindence to believe in one's perceptions instead of the "Fog of Word"

Desert Cat said...

But it also seems to me that some people swing too far in the other direction, in behaving as though a man has none of the rights and all of the responsibilities within a relationship. It is no wonder that men are increasingly commitment-shy, when they find themselves vulnerable to that sort of a stacked deck.

Of course, you're quite aware of where a whole lot of it originates. I know that if I were single, I would be a very wary cat...

k said...

And, DC, you should be.

I truly believe you have no idea how much a Way High on the Food Chain guy you are.