The Man Who Couldn`t Love Well Enough Alone

by Bryan Harmon

The Man Who Couldn't Love Well Enough, Alone

He was an imperfect man, living an imperfect life, in a world so far from perfect, that if there had been a perfect world and one of its flawless inhabitants had picked up a thesaurus and looked up the word perfect, he would have seen a picture of this man's world under the antonym heading! His was a world full of selfish, bigoted, spiteful, ignorant, cruel people and he was aware that he too possessed all these qualities, but he had that going for him. To realize that you are flawed is far from being half the battle, but it is a start and in his world just that realization put him in the extreme minority. Most of his fellow inhabitants were very aware of the faults of others, but could not or would not see their own.

He was also a very unhappy man. Happiness had been a part of his life on a few brief occasions, but it was far away right now. Sometimes he wondered if those times that he could remember when he had felt something other than unhappiness had been merely dreams or perhaps periods of lesser depression which seemed joyful only in contrast to his present mood. After all, he lived in an unhappy world and the people who considered themselves otherwise unquestionably existed in a state of delusion. How could anything even remotely resembling happiness be found in such a place?

In addition he was also a lonely man. But this condition, although it was shared by many in his world, was not universal like the aforementioned others. It had not always been so in his life either, although he had much previous experience with it. Loneliness was one of the principal causes of his present unhappiness, but he knew that, even if he wasn't alone, other things were always ready to step forward and prevent his being happy. Although being lonely and unhappy had its advantages (it made him more empathic and enabled him to think clearer), these benefits didn't lessen the pain that it brought. He had developed these traits of empathy and thinking for himself a long time ago, but they had definitely been enhanced through the years by the scarcity of joy and companionship in his life.

His ability to feel for others had failed him in the one area where it might have been a tremendous help. It didn't seem to work with those whom he cared about the most. Instead of working to enhance personal relationships by allowing him to really understand the loved one's needs and feelings, it would fade into uselessness and he would be left unable to comprehend what should have been easy for him to sense. With a stranger or a mere acquaintance, he could easily detect what was needed and put aside his personal feelings to work for the benefit of the other person, but when he was close to someone for a long period of time he seemed to grow numb to their needs and find it hard to overcome his own interests, even when he was aware of theirs, because of a lack of appreciation for the magnitude of their feelings.

As for his penchant for thinking things out for himself instead of accepting the commonly held views, while it initially seemed an attractive quality, it eventually became a source of friction in a longer relationship. Women, especially, seemed to become exasperated when he failed to respond to situations with what would be considered normal thought and actions. Yes, being a free thinker had been a major impediment to establishing long-term bonding with members of the opposite sex, but that aspect of his persona remained constant whether among strangers or close associates.

So this imperfect, unhappy, lonely man was now the scarred survivor of two failed relationships, and he knew his own weaknesses and shortcomings were definitely primary contributory factors. Of course the two unfortunate females involved were themselves as imperfect as we have discovered all denizens of this flawed planet are, so their actions in response to his defective performance were not totally untainted with fault. However, he felt that he had fallen severely short of his own standards in dealing with them, so he had to shoulder the lion's share of the blame. After all, they were only behaving like all the other inhabitants of this world.

And he cried because of his personal loss of companionship.

He shed tears because of his inability to change what he could clearly see was wrong.

He felt great sadness that his fellow beings could hurt each other the way they did.

His heart filled with remorse at the remembrance of his own failings.

He wept at the suffering of others.

And he wailed from the sheer weight of the injustice and ignorance of his world.

He spoke out against prejudice.

He railed against commercialism.

He protested about the lack of compassion.

He objected to narrow-mindedness.

He shouted about self-determination.

He cried out for universal understanding.

And he held in contempt the forces of business as usual.

But most of all, he longed for love!

He tried to continually increase his caring for others.

He attempted to teach the message of loving others as much as your self.

He tried to point out that all the problems of his world were caused by either individual or group selfishness.

And he failed at all these things!

He could not perfect his own caring; he was unable to persuade even one other person to see his vision and he was not able to achieve any success in his mission of enlightenment. His world went on hating, hurting, unknowing, self-righteous and self-absorbed and he had to fight these some demons within himself!

But he refused to be daunted, for he had the unshakable belief that he was right. His vision of how things should be might not be practical, it might not be reasonable, it might even be impossible, but it was the solution to the wrongs of his world! Universal love and unselfishness was the way, and he was going to do his damnedest to live it and preach it! Personal failings and un-acceptance by others would not deter him. However, he felt no better, no nobler than any others who tried to live up to what they believed, and he felt no animosity toward the people who exhibited the traits and behavior that he hated. After all, they were imperfect beings just as he was and they were just being themselves.

His thoughts about a Supreme Being, a perfect entity above all this, were ambiguous. He had definite ideas about what such a personage would have to be like, but found it hard to reconcile these with the idea of such a being creating or controlling the chaos he saw around him. None of the explanations he had ever been given, to harmonize these incompatible ideas of a perfect, loving, omnipotent ruler and an imperfect, hateful, suffering world, were acceptable; so he left that question up in the air. He didn't see how his opinion about it made any difference anyway. He realized that many of his fellow beings derived comfort and hope from this belief, but it seemed to smack too much of acceptance of convention to be a real answer to tangible problems. Most people merely accepted the beliefs of their culture on this, and he didn't see much evidence of self-determination or open-mindedness. He didn't believe God was anything like anyone had ever told him and since he had no idea what a God would want from him, he didn't worry about it much.

And still he longed for love! He wished all his fellow beings would stop their selfish, uncaring behavior, really see what everyone else needed and be affected by that knowledge. He loathed the prejudice and hate he saw exhibited toward others because of racial and cultural differences. He detested the group condemnation of those with differing beliefs that he observed in members of organized religions. He hated the mistrust and apathy that his fellow inhabitants showed towards others, who were only different in that they lived under another political system on the other side of an imaginary line drawn on their common globe. He could see that these three major forms of prejudice: racism, religion and nationalism, along with personal selfishness, were behind all the pain that persons caused each other.

And on a personal level he needed, desired, longed for and was obsessed with obtaining the personal affection and attention of one female, from whom he could draw the warmth and companionship that were needed to make him complete. He was very aware that he had failed in this area before, but he never stopped hoping that it was possible. After many years of doubting it, he now knew he could be loved, the trick was to keep it going. He knew this had much to do with his actions, but he also knew that it would take a special person to provide what he needed while accepting him as the unique individual that he was.

He seemed to be dwelling on this need continuously lately. He knew this was selfish and he wished he could give of himself completely to everyone without anything special coming his way, but he was imperfect. And that imperfection made him just as human, just as real, just as ordinary as all the billions who lived and loved and dreamed and shared his real world.

And he knew his loneliness was his fault and he suffered for it. Maybe he wanted too much, tried too hard and hoped more than he should have, but he remained the man who couldn't love well enough. Alone.

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