I went to a science fiction exhibition in London with my Dad today. I saw, among other things, Leonard Nimoy’s spacesuit from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and John Hurt’s spacesuit from Alien (a film I have never had the guts to watch, pun intended; I’m a big scaredy cat). That isn’t particularly relevant to this post, but while I was coming home, I thought about how I have been feeling lately, about the loneliness and sexual frustration. I was worried that I was looking to get married purely to have sex, which is obviously a monumentally stupid thing to do. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I was being too hard on myself, though. Religion aside, there are certainly ways of having no-strings sex if you want it, but it doesn’t attract me as an idea, even as a fantasy. It actually scares me as much as anything. I think what I want is closeness, intimacy. Love, in other words: to give it and to receive it. I’m obviously not getting as good at reading my feelings as I thought it was if I had to reason them through like this, but I got there in the end.
And I definitely want to have children. That’s another reason why I worry about getting older while still single. Obviously I don’t have a biological clock per se, but I don’t intend to be a creepy older guy who trys to date nineteen year old girls. If I want to marry someone roughly my age, her biological clock is going to be ticking loudly by this stage. Explaining why I want to have children is hard, and again, part of me worries I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, but it would include giving love (again) and passing on my Jewish heritage and values to the next generation. (This may seem odd, given I’m such a pessimist and given I worry about passing on my mental health issues. I know a number of people who think that they or the world are too screwed up for it to be safe for them to have children. I guess I trust in my values and think that the more good people who have children, the more chance the next generation has of producing people who can fix some of our screw-ups.) I think about it a lot, about what kind of father I would like to be, what I would do in various parenting situations, how I would try to have kids who don’t go through the difficult things I had to go through (I’m sure they’ll go through traumas of their own).
Actually, I saw this article ages ago and was puzzled by the fact that it said you should know your mission in life before dating. I didn’t know what my mission is. I still don’t know, but I have come to the conclusion that part of it at least is about passing on values and wisdom to the next generation. I’m not a teacher in a straightforward way, but as a librarian, this is my job too. It’s why I feel a lot more comfortable in my current job as assistant librarian at a further education college, helping students from deprived backgrounds get essential qualifications and (in many cases) helping immigrants and people with learning disabilities with basic English literacy and numeracy than I was in my old job, helping privileged middle class people become clergy for a religious denomination that I don’t belong to. So becoming a father is a key part of my life mission, I think.
It is still hard to answer the first question on that list in the linked article, though: what I have to offer a potential mate, because it often seems like very little except stuff that should be fitted as standard, like being dependable and trustworthy and the fact that I’m not violent or abusive. I can’t see why someone would want to date me when there are plenty of other functional guys out there, many of them with better looks, more virtues, and more interesting personalities as well as fewer vices and neuroses than I have. This is where I typically start worrying about the fact that I didn’t go to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) like most frum (religious) young men and that my mental health issues keep me from attending shul (synagogue) as often as I would like or from studying Torah as much and on as high a level as I would like – all things that would typically be expected of a man in the frum world and things a potential date might well be justified in asking for in me. So I feel today I have a clearer idea of who I am and what I want, but I am still very pessimistic about being able to get it.
I also had some thoughts about platonic friendships today, but I think this post is long enough and I really ought to have some dinner and think about getting to bed, so I will leave it here for now.