The perfect kissSometimes I think about kissing you. I mean, having kissed you; I don't think I ever will again.
I say think but I mean remember. But it is such an exquisite memory it is almost as though I must have created it by force of will. It is not just a kiss but how a kiss should be. It is the yardstick for all kisses I have had since. I am fond of kissing but only for so long: you I could kiss all night and never tire of it.
And I think, that is how it is to me. How it is to you I have no idea. Maybe you've had better. I have no illusions. I'm good at it in the same halfarsed way I'm good at most things I try. I see the rules; I follow the rules. A rule is that it is for you not just for me but I don't know how you even judge things like that.
I often wonder about how things are. We know as best as we can know anything how things are to us. And it's limited by how we are able to know. But I often wonder how it is for the person I am with. Sometimes they tell you but words are poor shadows of what it is.
Is there such a thing as the perfect kiss? It can only be perfect for me or perfect for you, right? I used to laugh with B at how bad people kiss. They do the Hungry Dog or the Cat at the Cream, or their mouth becomes a churning washing machine of tongue and spit. I didn't like how she kissed but I never told her. There was no way to.
She told me many things she did not like about me.
When I think about what's real, I think about three spheres of reality. Not that there are three spheres, or any spheres, or fewer than any number. It's just how I think about it so that I can think about it at all.
There is what there is. The world and the things in it. It appears to be certain ways to us but we have learned that it's not those ways at all. Reality is distant from the picture of it our brains are able to create. I don't mean brains create reality in a substantial way. I think the real is real. But a brain can only represent things to itself in certain ways, whether through the pure action of the senses or through reason and number.
So it is impossible to talk about what is real because we have no machinery even to engage with it, let alone describe it to each other. We only know some of the ways it manifests. I do not believe you can become enlightened and "see" it or comprehend it at all. I think you become enlightened when you are clear in your mind that you cannot and you are able to accept that with equanimity.
Then there is what people do. It is all stimulus and response but the ways we respond are complex because the rules for our interactions are complex. We imbibe them as we grow. Our actions are shaped in myriad small ways, tiny adjustments conditioned by what we see, what is done to us and by us, and how those things make chemicals wash through our brains.
Have you ever realised you are an automaton? Have you ever stopped and thought, I do not know why I am doing what I am doing; I just seem to be doing it? Have you ever wondered whether you could even choose to do it? Have you ever felt you were the helpless jockey of a runaway horse?
Sometimes I wonder why there is such a gap between what I think and what I feel. I know I do not exist. I know I am an automaton. I know that if I look "inside" there's no there there. There is just a brain representing the world -- and itself -- to itself. And surely that means that ultimately, with no free will there can be no responsibility.
Yet I prize responsibility. I prize the willingness to say that you will take care of what you should take care of and then you do it. Maybe I hold it a virtue because I am responsible.
I do not mean I am trustworthy. No one impulsive really can be. All you can do is try not to promise too much. But keeping promises is not the core of responsibility as I see it. Accepting what you should do for the sake of equity is closer to it. And it is like everything limited by how able you are. I think a strong lesson I have learned in life is to be forgiving of those who are as responsible as they are able to be. But I still don't care for those who fall short of their abilities.
It is irresponsible to care only about yourself. That is why I care how my kisses are to you. That is why I care what people think. Because whether you are doing good or ill is not something you can always judge for yourself.
Perhaps people who do just please themselves are wiser than I am. Or perhaps they do not exist but are merely people who are good at looking as though they don't care but care just as much without its being apparent. Perhaps I appear that way to you. It is among the things I least like about myself that this is possible.
The third sphere is ourselves. Reality begins and ends within your head. Nothing is realler than yourself, we all feel that.
Sometimes I feel like I am something small that lives within myself. I feel that small thing looking out through my eyes, and it has no part of the accretions that you, looking at me, might call me. It does not have beliefs. It does not have understanding of the world around it. It simply looks out with terror that it cannot name.
I believe it is my restless heart. I believe it expands and contracts with love. I believe it is the thing that if it could speak would have been saying, This is a kiss, when we kissed.
It is hurt because it is trapped within a web of interactions in my brain, the thoughts, feelings and ideas that spin around pretending to be a human being.
It is not real. I know it is just some patch of cells, if it is even that, some group of neurons that responds to this or that chemical and represents the outcome as a signal that passes through different parts of my brain and evokes the feeling of a quivering hind.
I think of the brain as a community, rather than a group of functions. Members of that community try to influence other members by using chemicals. I say, try to influence but there is no agency. The cells do it quite mindlessly. Feelings are simply irruptions in the community.
But patches of cells are real enough, aren't they? And chemicals that evoke feelings are real too. But these things are real in the first sphere -- they are parts of the material world. And they might provoke things that appear real in the second sphere -- they might motivate behaviour that you cannot understand because none of it is really anything you can control. Because you are an illusion of being that controls nothing and you cannot know it because in the third sphere, by some magic of chance, you have convinced yourself that the million splinters of acculturation and memory, stimulus and response are actually a coherent entity. It is almost as though we hear the noise of the sea and think it is the sea.
Still, I liked it. I felt like I no longer existed, that I could disappear and be content. I liked it as much as I've ever liked anything. I liked that it was you. I could close my eyes and think of nothing but kissing you, and you would be an inchoate goodness, no longer a person of parts, no longer the memories I had of you, no longer anything but the kiss that you bestowed on me.
I do not know how it was created, what magic of chemistry built the sensation, but I liked it. For a moment, the small, easily bruised, timid fawn within me flourished, grew to encompass my whole world and felt that it had touched what it knew could be but had feared would never be.
What difference does it make that I am or I am not if I feel that I am? Isn't it just the same as looking at rocks, trees and sea? They may be things we create out of a reality too difficult to represent as it is but they are what they are to us. They make no sense in any other way. Even if we spend some small time thinking about what they really are, we soon tire of the impracticality. We were born to manipulate the world -- literally and symbolically -- and concepts that we can do nothing with we don't waste too much energy on.
Bees dance and we think they do not know what they are doing. They dance in patterns that give directions to food. They convey information without knowing that they are doing it or knowing what they're seeing when they receive it. Or so we believe.
But I wonder. Perhaps a bee, a social being, is delighted to share its knowledge of where food is with its fellows. Perhaps it feels real joy when it dances. Perhaps it too has a small inner bee that swells when it is delighted by what it is doing.
I know I am an automaton but even automata like to be kissed.