"Of course he has," but he is still my friend. "I feel close to him, because of what he represents."
I enjoyed listening to Helen. She was right about so many things. Certainly she was right about me. I had not known before I met her, what Love is. I had never seen it as an universal impetus that needs to be understood in its universal context, or else it can't be understood at all. Helen had opened up a whole New World to me with vast new implications that I now had to face. But did I understand any of it? Probably not. Obviously, that was the reason why I had let my hands fall away from her breast.
At one point in our conversation, with our drinks and snacks in hand, Helen showed me the rest of the apartment. The apartment had a balcony, accessible through the kitchen. It offered a view of a small park as I could make out. The bathroom, however, was tiny, with barely enough room for a tub and a small counter. There was a blue glowing glass sculpture at the end of the counter. The single bedroom in the apartment was large in comparison. The bedroom furniture were modern, painted white. Her bed was huge, king sized, if not bigger. A floor-to-ceiling mirror graced one wall.
Shortly after we entered the bedroom Helen turned the main lights off. She shed her gown and crawled into bed. "Come, Peter," she said gently.
My reaction must have seemed like that of an idiot. I just stood there, and couldn't move. I wanted to respond. I wanted this above anything I could think of, just to be with her, but I couldn't move.
"Do I make you feel uncomfortable?" she asked. "But why should you feel that way? How many times a week do you go to bed with your wife? Every night, usually. Am I right? So, why not now? Am I not a woman, just like your wife is? Or am I a lesser woman?"
"No Helen, you are a great woman and a great person. You are a dream to be with."
"Ah, that's not it then," she said and smiled. "Are you saying that you have never had any close, intimate moments of sexual sharing with a woman before in your entire life? Is that why you are hesitant?"
"Of course I have had sexual intimacies with a woman before, on countless occasions, with my wife," I answered.
I remember that I had begun to laugh as I said this. I had sounded so stupid, so silly. It was obvious what this was leading towards, but it was also rather beautiful what was unfolding, because it brought to light what the principle of truthfulness with oneself really is. What was unfolding came to light as something far greater than I had thought it would be. I could think of no principle to support the narrow concept that I had clung to for so long. Still, I had let the old train of thinking continue that night in order to discover what else I had not discovered before.
"Then you are saying to me that I am not as much a human being as your wife is?" Helen continued our conversation, which she may have recognized had become a game, but one that needed to be played out to the logical end, to clear the air.
"No, Helen, you are a beautiful human being and a beautiful woman all at the same time," I replied in my defense, "who could ask for anything more?"
"Tell me then, Peter, what prevents you from being truthful with yourself, and with me? Would you not love to be with me in bed, at this very minute?"
"I would love nothing better," I answered. "It would be the greatest joy. I have dreamed about a situation like this, for so long, like you wouldn't believe, and here I stand and find it difficult to take that one last simple step. I am an idiot, right? I am untruthful with myself and with you. Do you want me to tell you why? The reason is that we have all been taught for centuries to be untruthful with ourselves and with one-another. That's why I can't move. It's anchored in time!"
Helen began to laugh. "If you could only hear yourself! But what is time? That's a tough one to break, Peter, isn't it?" She continued gently. "It is the toughest challenge that I have encountered. It prevents us from accepting our universal humanity. Living as slaves to time and tradition has become a deadly failure in civilization, Peter. What the Pharaohs created also became a tradition. Do you know what the social name for the infibulation of women is? The name is tradition! Do we need to honor tradition? Millions of women are mutilated for the sake of tradition every year. Or do we need to honor Truth? That is my imperative."
"We recognize the principle of the universality that supports our unity as human beings, in which we are all one," I said to her.
"Oh yes, we even say we understand it," said Helen. "But do we understand it? We have proof of it, as your dream illustrates, and still we deny ourselves, and doubt what our scientific mind has already acknowledged as Truth. What a paradox! We have lived like that for a very long time, Peter."
"The Truth is," I replied to her, and the laughter faded as I said this, "you are as much a star in the heavens of our humanity, as a woman, than my wife is as a woman, or any other woman I have ever met. At this level we are truly all one. We reflect and share a common humanity. As you say, there is no difference at the leading edge."
"I didn't say, there is no difference," Helen replied immediately. "You said this. But I can tell you this; we are both more profoundly and deeply married to each other, you and I, as human beings, than the marriage division isolates us that you are putting so much emphasis on. Our universal marriage as human beings is rooted in Truth. It is a part of the reality of our being. What isolates us, in comparison with that, is artificial."
I was stunned. I didn't know what to reply. I had said almost the same thing to Erica earlier, but that had been theoretically spoken then. Helen suggested that I be honest with myself now and acknowledge what the Truth is that I had long recognized to be true. This became a challenge I hadn't expected, or hadn't prepared myself for.
"I like to agree with you that you are right," I said in reply. "We are all married to each other as human beings. We are this by the countless wonders that we share as members of the human family. That's what we find reflected in our common humanity. I suppose you are right also that this natural marriage goes deeper, and is more profound, than anything we have come up with to artificially symbolize the principle that unites us. I suppose the truth is, that we are brothers and sisters then, of the family of man, and should treat each other that way."
I began to laugh as I said this. It seemed silly now to consider how badly we respond to what is obviously true. "Isn't it silly," I said to her, "that we find it so hard to accept what is so evidently anchored in the Truth? Isn't is silly that we are more inclined to see each other as enemies, and treat each other that way, than to be in Love with each other for what we all share? Isn't it silly of us that we do all of this in the name of some superimposed civil arrangement that we have invented in the name of making our life richer, but which denies the very reality that it aims to build on? Indeed, why should we deny the riches of our humanity that unite us, for something that is artificial? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the artificial be elevated to reflect the reality of our being, by our commitment to embrace ever more of the wondrous reality by which we are all united as human beings?"
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