Jungle Karaoke and Eros
As I was walking down a rocky path through the jungle on Cebu Island in the Philippines, I came across this scene where a man was singing karaoke outside of his thatch hut. I was amazed that in spite of the evidence that pointed to extreme poverty, there was a karaoke system sitting on a crude table just outside of the flimsy hut that served as the family home. I don’t think anyone would question the presence of love, of Eros in this scene. It is there in terms of music, in the triad of mother, father and child, in the eyes of the child that finds the onlooker. Eros is the animating force that says yes to life. But I am ahead of myself here. Before giving any kind of answer, the question must be asked fully.
“What is Eros, and how does It/He/She conform with or differ from the erotic? What is the proper role of this “god” in our lives? How, when all of us have had our hearts cracked and crazed, if not broken forever, can we still steer our leaky craft through the dangerous but necessary shoals of love? How can we honestly grieve loss and disappointment and still, with due deliberation, plunge again into risk and emotional danger? How can we, in the face of shame and failure, open up to life, and open repeatedly? How can we honor Eros, this much misunderstood god, yet not be enslaved by It/Him/Her? Who among us has not made foolish, irretrievable decisions while possessed by this god? Who among us does not long for such violent possession? Who among us can control that god, or compel its acquiescence to our agenda? And why should we so eagerly return to get beat up again by such a petulant god, over and over again. Perhaps because we have no choice, because Eros is a god. and we are not. ” (Hollis, What Matters Most, pp 45-46)
Hollis’ words strike right into my depths, and for that I am thankful for it allows me to think kinder of myself for all of my foolishness in matters of the heart, in matters of sexual attraction. And, in hearing these words, I get to understand better how it is my wife continues to hold to me in spite of all the rough patches that have left scars, emotional scars. Somehow, this god, Eros, has seen fit to allow all the ups and downs to be experienced with the same person.
But, I want to know more, for Eros is not just about man and woman as I said in my opening words, it is about much more:
“Eros is the life force – desire that wishes most to connect, to build, to combine, to fuse, to generate with the other. (Hollis, page 46)
Yes! This is what I was trying to say, this is what connects me with life, with others, this is what allows me to dig deep within to continue on though the way gets almost too hard and when depression would tell me to simply quit and retreat into nothingness. This depth lets me understand how others, whose lives are infinitely more difficult than I could ever imagine living, still find a way to stay alive and yet embrace life, to find the voice to sing to their families and to their own souls.