Ask Mr. Blue
Garrison Keillor of NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” does a weekly column at Salon.com called “Ask Mr. Blue” wherein he advises people about writing and life in general. I’m a big fan of the column and his level-headed advice but one question and answer this week really hit home for me.
An advisee writes in:
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Dear Mr. Blue,
My boyfriend is a wonderful person — fun, generous, compassionate, devoted — but I’ve never felt passion toward him, and don’t know that I ever will. And more and more, I’ve begun to think about other men who do arouse my romantic interest, which leaves me feeling both guilty and increasingly curious. I would leave him before I acted on that curiosity, but I’m torn between my need for a passionate relationship and my reluctance to hurt him in any way — this lovely man who adores me and has shown me nothing but kindness. Coupled with the fact that we live in a major city and I can’t very well send him onto the streets on his limited salary; I’ve no idea what to do. And the thought of breaking his heart breaks mine.
The sexual revolution gave ordinary folks like you and me the idea that sexual passion was basic to life, a sort of fundamental right, which is true in the sense that it’s part of our common animal nature, and everyone should be able to enjoy his or her own body. But the passions of other species are of brief duration and are completely satisfied in the act, whereas we humans have separated the passion from its biological purpose — I realize I am starting to sound like an elderly cardinal now, but bear with me — and the longing for passion is a sort of low-grade virus circulating among us. Look at the windfall profits of the dreadful novels and movies that play on this virus and you see how pervasive it is. (that’s my emphasis – Gen)
You could write a lucrative novel based on your own story: You have the first chapter now, and the second is your tearful parting with this devoted man, and then you find the passionate man — actually, a series of them, because passion is a gas, not a solid, and one must go back to the original chain reaction of seduction/conquest to create it — and so you go, and maybe this is what you want, maybe not. I don’t know. (He continues his advice- check the site for the rest.)
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This is so painfully true to me (what people want is excitement and passion which inevitably means re-creating the beginnings of relationships over and over) that I had to quote it.
I wonder must I have the same expectations?