The Cheating Kind
Furore this week when a well known website which caters to those wishing to have an extramarital affair was hacked promptly instilling the fear of death amongst its millions of users. It is anticipated that almost as many marriages will crumble under the strain of discovering that one has been cheated upon. A very helpful map was circulated on the internet of the concentration of the website's members per country with the UK, America, Canada and Australia topping the list. Users in the Third World appear to be far fewer and in some of the more impoverished countries, there are none at all. What do these statistics tell us about the West? Obviously the more money people have, the more inclined they are to be lost within themselves and tempted to spend their money fuelling their egos. If they had to choose between eating and cheating perhaps they would be less inclined to do so. The problems in the Third and Developing World constrain their inhabitants by a shortage of spare cash, to risk spending what little they do have foolishly. Plus one cannot sleep in two beds at the same time when having even a comfy, warm bed in the first place is a luxury.
So what about that old adage that all men will end up cheating? From what we can garner from the now famous website, perhaps it is not true. Not all men cheat- bored men cheat, unfulfilled men cheat, hapless men cheat, insecure men cheat, sexually deprived men cheat and crucially, everyone fantasises about cheating now and then. However there are men who have the sense and self-awareness to know that cheating is destructive, not only to their partners but also to themselves. Fooling oneself takes an enormous amount of energy and memorising a plethora of lies, each one more convincing than the last requires the skill of a contortionist. On the reverse, a large ego can make cheating an unattractive proposition- for example, some women are simply too vain to settle for being a mistress.
Hopefully not all of the scorned partners of the hacked website will rush to divorce. In a world full of crazy terrorists and useless politicians, perhaps adultery could well be the lesser of our modern-day evils. Everything is relative (Albert Einstein).
Hold that thought
At a cocktail party the other evening the drinks were flowing and I thought I might start smoking again as a waft of nicotine drifted towards me. The night was idyllic- a clear sky sparkling with stars, a comfortable temperature (22 degrees Celsius, apparently the ideal temperature for lovemaking but I digress) and a teasing, cool breeze. The lake lapped peacefully at our feet as the shrill of laughter, in between mouthfuls of canapés, kept the otters and ducks awake. In spite of the generosity of my hosts and the seemingly perfect setting, the conversation was boring me rigid; cocktail parties are notorious for talking about money, houses and anything but the inner life. I was hoping that the criminal lawyer who had been unwittingly having a soporific effect on me would be able to share a memorable anecdote or two - after all, lawyers do get to see the worst of humanity! As we chatted and I yearned for a cigarette, the conversation turned to being able to express one's interpretation of life and which is unique to us. Just as the works of great artists express a language that is their own, each of us has a coded inner being that cannot be duplicated. The lawyer blurted out his response indignantly: 'Unique?! I've never had an original thought in my life!' Suddenly the gentle lapping of the lake sounded like a tidal wave crashing inside my head. There used to be a time when the soul was elevated to more than a public acknowledgement that one never thinks beyond the immediate and mundane. Or I guess those are the lucky ones.
Readers may be aware by now that I had a great affection for my late father and we got on very well. My father came from a large family- he was the eldest of thirteen brothers and one sister. Despite a difficult start to his life, my father never lost his sense of humour and was blessed with a kind and loving nature. My father wasn't always lucky and was dealt hard knocks in life but he preferred not to become bitter. One of my father's brothers, Bertie, has always been my favourite uncle. I recently saw Bertie again after many years and I was struck at how peaceful and contented he is. In addition to his smiling Buddha-like demeanour, Bertie is a thoroughly decent man who has a harmonious and happy marriage. Many could learn from my Uncle Bertie whose greatest happiness is surely feeding the wild birds that wait for him every morning by the kitchen window. I recently went through a pretty traumatic experience and I reached out to my Uncle Bertie. He rang me straight away to tell me something very simple, just three small words but which can literally move mountains. 'I love you.' Thank you, Bertie. I love you too. It's not a cliché but love can heal all the rotten wretchedness around us. Tell someone you love them today and you could actually save the world.
Photo copyright S. van Dalen