During a difficult dating phase in my youth (single and looking) I felt I’d set the bar for boy behavior about as low as it could go (on the ground).
But it kept being too high to clear in terms of what seemed like basic human decency. It was a bit depressing. At the time, I was thinking: WTF? (but without the acronym).
Indeed films of the era, like Unmarried Woman, confirmed that after dumping their wives of decades, guys mostly just traded in for a new model, whereas women were left holding the family together, coping with lost income, lost self-esteem, and taking a long and difficult journey to reconnect to their sense of self.
Guys remarried and started a fresh new replacement family, no remorse (though if the new wife turns out not to treat him quite as well as the earlier model, there may be some self-centered regret).
Males in general seemed to find a simpler way to negotiate the universe. Direct, uncomplicated, without self-doubt, self-questioning, able to dismiss mistakes and move on….Clueless. Happy.
Drove me crazy.
Then I thought about Genesis and how the Bible presents paradise as an innocent world. An ignorant world. Clueless. Happy.
Within that world view, the “Original Sin” that humankind is cursed with, is the sin of disobedience. Though I must note the particularly poignant fact is that when you look up “original sin,” it is referenced as “Adam’s sin” in eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And as you knowâ€”per the Bibleâ€”Eve got there first and is vilified because of her actions. But in terms of history, it is his actions that are referenced, because, really, he’s the only one that counts.
So I was thinking about the “curse,” and that it was not just the “sin” of disobedience, but the declared “sin” of desiring the knowledge of good and evil. The desire to know more, to understand more, to open the door to informationâ€”with all its responsibilities, challenges and demands.
To stop being ignorant and be aware, accountable. To go beyond the self and not only appreciate your impact on others, but to acknowledge that you have choices. And that you are accountable for making those choices, and responsible for the consequences of your actions.
You have taken a bite, and the knowledge of good and evil is now inescapably part of who you are. It is a burden. It is a gift.
So during these difficult dating times, I wondered why women, on balance, seem to suffer more, be more aware, and often got the short end of the stick. It didn’t seem fair.
But then I reflected on Genesis and was helped by the following insight: Eve took a bite of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before Adam did.
And it seemed that that Eve’s first mover statusâ€”in reaching greater awareness and thus greater responsibility, sometimes greater painâ€”were metaphorically (and actually) carried forward though life. Women are cursedâ€”or blessedâ€”with the ability to tell the difference between good and evil just a little bit sooner, a little bit more than most men.
That was a helpful metaphor for me in explaining the fact that women are usually just a bit ahead of the game in that area.
And even more helpful when I asked myself the big question: would you rather be blissfully ignorant and happy, or accept the burden of knowledge, even if it might bring unhappiness?
My answer: If I had a choice, I would bite the apple. Despite the cost, no question.
Romances have always inspired me in their acknowledgement of that emotional burden. Reinforcing that we are not alone. Giving the support and validation to keep carrying it forward, with all its challenges.