Strangely, this course of self-isolation didn't give us an easy way out. It brought no peace. Instead, we were moving deeper into the rut, into the rut of this civilized hell, and deeper into isolation with increased tensions.
At our last private meeting at the lookout point high above our beach I asked Heather the same question that I had asked Tony during the Air Show days. Tony spoke about the XB-70 Valkyrie, America's marvel in aviation engineering, the fastest long-range bomber ever built. Tony was as proud of this achievement as if it were his own personal achievement. The plane could fly three times the speed of sound, cruise at 60,000 feet, and cover 8,000 Km fully loaded without refueling. It was an engineering miracle of the highest order. Tony stood in awe before what had been achieved. That's when I had asked him if this great marvel had made the world a safer and freer place. He had said, No. He had to admit that it hadn't. He said that we had built engines of war since ancient times and are no more secure than we were then.
Having said this, I turned to Heather. "We need to ask ourselves the same question," I said quietly. "Has our reverting back to our ancient customs made our intimate world more secure, our love richer, and our joy more profound?"
Heather shook her head without comment.
"It seems to me that the opposite happened," I continued. "We have rededicated ourselves to the vertical model, the imperial model, and lost everything that we had achieved. Steve had warned me about this. He warned that we would be inclined to move back to 'Property Lane,' as he had put it, which should also be called 'Poverty Lane.' And he was right, Heather. We are precisely where Steve predicted we would end up. You are Ross' girl. I am Sylvia's man. And never the twain shall meet. We are back living on 'Property Lane' indeed. What happened to our bold dreams of living by the Principle of Universal Love? Mozart's Figaro should have been taken as an eviction notice. The whole opera is about moving away from 'Property Lane.' It doesn't complete the process by any means, but it starts it. Being evicted from 'Property Lane' leaves one only one option: to step up to higher ground, to take the scientific step to the lateral model. But we didn't. We took the wrong step. We turned our back to our universal humanity and its boundless potential and allowed it to become scrapped. We may still talk about the Principle of Universal Love, with our lips, but we deny its operational model. We are living a lye unto ourselves."
"I am Ross' girl. This isn't a lye. You are Sylvia's husband. That isn't a lye either. We shouldn't even be talking to each other the way we are. What we shared in the past was wonderful and exciting, I agree, but it didn't last because it was a mistake. We lied to ourselves, thinking that this could work. Mozart's Figaro was a similar fantasy. Maybe the people who love this opera love to be lied to."
"No Heather, America's building the XB-70 was a mistake. It never increased our security for one single minute. No valid principle stands behind it. By aiming for military superiority over everyone, we closed the door to what we should really be building. We should be building peace, trust, mutual support, even generosity, instead of brandishing the sword. And so we die by the sword. I would say that this was a mistake. But the joy and love that we shared, it was real. It stood on the principle that every renaissance stood on. So, it wasn't a mistake and we nearly succeeded. We were building boldly and courageously on the lateral model, the model of our humanity, the model of the Principle of Universal Love, where everyone stands side by side, not above, or below, but on a lateral plane as human beings. We succeeded, because we built on this model. We lost our joy only when we invalidated that model. We moved back to 'Property Lane.' Love has become privatized. It has become a page in a portfolio. And our sexuality has become privatized with it. Everything has become privatized. Helen's model of the lateral lattice has been scrapped by both of us. While in real terms this model can't be scrapped, since it is the model of our universal humanity, it is nevertheless possible to deny it. And by denying it, we have scrapped ourselves, literally. In real terms as a human being no one exists outside the lateral lattice that is held together by strands of love. In this context, what we shared in the past was wonderful and exciting because it was real."
Heather responded by letting her head drop forward. Her gaze was fixed on the ground, silently. I noticed more than one tear flowing down her cheeks when she raised her head again.
We parted this day without a single embrace and without a kiss, or even as much as a smile.
Soon thereafter Heather allowed me to see her only when Ross was around. Or was it I who imposed this stupid rule on myself for her sake? I even told myself that being as deeply in love with one-another as we believed we still were, and always would be, that it should be unnecessary for us to meet physically at all. Hadn't I remained deeply in love with Anton? Though we had never met again after my fiasco in Moscow, or even spoken to one-another on the phone, my love of her as a beautiful human being had not faded with the passing years.
In order to deflect the focus away from Heather, I focused more and more on Ushi and Steve since everyone in our group respected my relationship with them and our love for one-another. It seemed odd that Steve and Ushi, who lived a half a world away, were more fully regarded as members of our families than we regarded one-another that lived within walking distance. Somehow it seemed easier for our attention to be focused on them, than onto ourselves. We had become stuck in a rut without realizing that we had, and now that our bus wasn't moving anymore, as it had become mired in mud up to its axles we didn't know what to do.
In Heather's fashion from the SandCastle days, I took a long walk up and down the length of our beach from time to time, to search for answers. But no answers ever did come to mind, nor did anyone join me on those walks to start an exploration. My footsteps always remained the only footsteps in the sand.
Maybe it was that we all felt that living at the leading edge had been too demanding. So, we simply let it slip away.
I had to laugh at the thought. It was like saying that being alive had become too much of a burden and needed to be scaled back. I shuddered. This train of thinking meant that we would be most comfortable being 'dead.' It was a scary train. The scariest part of being on this train was that it was reflected in so many ways. Even my diplomatic assignments seemed to reflect this creeping death. There was no vitality and excitement in them anymore.
Maybe we had to learn to become children again, I reasoned. Children don't find life to be a burden, even living at the leading edge, which they do day after day. They find everything new and exciting. They explore everything and test every avenue from the moment they awake until they fall asleep. They do this joyfully day after day, playing, exploring, and building a New World for themselves in their mind. Maybe that's what it means to be in love with oneself.
Of course I realized that children don't know quite as fully as we do, how to explore scientifically, how to create new perceptions, and how to challenge their boundaries with those new perceptions. I suddenly realized that neither did we. Nevertheless the children at play moved ahead anyway, while we didn't. We had simply stopped moving. We had drifted into a rut. When our 'bus' got stuck in the mud we responded with climbing up onto the rooftop to have a party. We told ourselves that this dancing on the rooftop of a bus that was stuck was great living. No one had ever suggested that we should be digging the bus out of the mud.
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|| - Exit -