The Danger of Learning Life Lessons from TV or “Where’s My Help-Mate?”

There’s a real danger when one too closely relates to the fictional lives depicted on TV or the movies. More than once I mercilessly teased a friend for feeling that his then love triangle resembled the one depicted in the Brad Pitt vehicle “Legends of the Fall.” Of course, he felt that he was the tragic/hero that said Mr. Pitt portrayed. “Yeah, right, you’re just like Brad Pitt.” I guess I couldn’t quite jump the gap between our relatively “common” life and the vistas and sweeping drama portrayed on the big screen. I believe Kierkegaard commented a century ago in Either/Or that our culture’s folly is revealed when we look for messages and “meaning” in our entertainment (in his day, theater) but go to church to be entertained. So when I watch something and it gets past my “light entertainment” escapist filter and gets down to the “meaning” level, I’m left to wonder at my own folly.

Thus, I had one of those “huh” moments when i was blissfully enjoying the season two DVDs of the sc-fi series “The 4400.” I’d heard about the series from my brother and immediately got sucked in. Alas, during season two life got in the way and I missed several episodes. One of the episodes I missed was the one where Tom gets a love interest. There was a very similar episode in StarTrek:TNG in which Picard wakes up to find himself in another person’s life with a wife and best-friend and community. As with the ST:TNG episode, the struggle for the main character to come to grips with this new life and the bonding that happens between the mates is endearing and a wonderful slice of what it means to be human. In the ST:TNG episode the past was reaching out to the future demanding to be remembered. In the 4400 the future was reaching into the past in an effort to help this person, Tom, survive what was going to come. I was amazed that in this fictional world the powers-that-be determined to help their hero by providing for him a beautiful mate with whom he could turn to in his coming time of trouble. At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, I was left to wonder “where’s my help-mate?”

camera-shoulder-j0216720Wow, there it was in popular media (well, semi-popular media), that having this soul-mate in ones life was a means to surviving the turmoils of life and not necessarily the cause of those turmoils (the usual drama motif) or the end of those turmoils (the “and they lived happily ever after” version of things). There’s no denying that having the soul-mate in ones life can contribute to said turmoils but I have to believe that if it’s a true case of soul-mates then it’s meant to see one through the turmoils and difficulties. Alas, I can’t say that I’ve really had that “in this together” experience of late.

Long stretches of silence and even longer gaps in affection and physical proximity tend to lend more to a feeling that the missing mate is the struggle instead of the means to get through the struggle. I remember relating the then struggle to a friend and mentor over a year ago and he anxiously protested that I couldn’t continue like this and that we needed to find someone “for Bustillos.” He was right. I narrowly escaped disaster with my teaching job and completely failed with my Pepperdine commitments. In fact the only real anchor at the moment seems to be my connection with my fellowship and that is less than certain these days. Wonderful

So, the one thing that I’ve really learned in all of this is that I was never meant to live alone but I seem to have managed to continue to be alone right up to this very moment. I began the year, making a break with the past and hoping for good things with e-harmony. It helped keep me sane but after over 150 closed matches I have a few new friends but no help-mate. Granted, in April you-know-who drifted back into my life and eventually I began to find it impossible to make any emotional connection with anyone else. Thus, e-harmony has been taken “offline” for me and my thoughts are back to getting my life re-centered before I consider bringing someone else into it.

"Propulsão" by jeronimo sanz Some Rights Reserved
“Propulsão” by jeronimo sanz Some Rights Reserved

Now, I don’t know that I want to go to sleep and wake up discovering that I’ve been married to her for 10 years (or someone else…), that we have three lovely kids and that I’m managing technology for a medium sized school district in So Cal. Granted, it would probably be worse to have the ST:TNG/Picard experience and wake up with only the memory but none of the people to connect the emotions to. Actually, with my journals and the present state of things, I do seem to only have the memories to keep me going because the person is not currently available to come anywhere close to where the memories (dreams) once took us. JBB



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