Committed Carpets Inc.
I am sitting on the shore of the remote island of Oligoamory. Small peaceful waves are rippling quietly towards the beach – the sun is shining, but here on the beach usually a fresh breeze prevails.
Somewhere in the distant woods of the islands’ interior behind me, I believe to hear a flute far away – a mere simple sequence of sounds.
The tale of Anday and Tavitih still echoes in me.
Would the Oligoamorists have been able to tell the story that way on the mainland or on the versatile archipelago of Polyamory, too?
Or would they have caused criticism and incomprehension?
Would the protagonists have been considered as occupying or even needy? Would their behaviour have been interpreted as possessive, their close, almost spiritual intertwining and sensitivity as interdependence?
Would the local audience have ticked off the story for themselves soon and furthermore – would they have urged Anday and Tavitih to better pay heed to the following sentence for future romance “Love is only true when it gives freedom”?
Lost in thought, I blink through my goblet glass full of semi-transparent cuja-cuja nectar into the distance, in which the sky and sea now appear greenish-yellow.
“True love”, I think – and I remember instantly several of the the numerous tales and legends that I alone already know which are entwined with this topic. Heroes are therein and villains, great ideals and jet-black abysses. Contradictory epics thus, in manifold guises.
“True love”, I weigh the words again on my tongue – and then think: “True love … – … first of all does… … nothing!”
It is – alright. And at some point in time, it arises between living beings – and they are almost always the ones who, in turn, do something with that love or at least in their name.
So if love is primarily a connection, a kind of energy between living beings … – might the aforementioned advocates then possibly be right that it would be therefore important for it to flow freely and unburdened – wherever it wants to go?
What would the Oligoamorists say about that?
They probably wouldn’t question the free flow of love. But as far as I know that sustainable bunch, they would probably have something to say about its quality:
“Free yes – but not arbitrary! Look, Oligotropos, that fits perfectly.”, they might exclaim. “It’s literally like your energy, which you call ‘electricity’: Seemingly neutral, it is available to you constantly in the same strength every day right from your socket-outlet. The electricity is always there – and it does not mind if you use it to attach a bolt or raise the sound of a whole orchestra with it. But it will probably mind to you if its source is nuclear fire or wind power! That’s where commitment comes into play – but commitment and freedom do not have to be a contradiction!”
Well. Sometimes these bold Oligoamorists overwhelm even me when they leap from sustainability to commitment in such a way… In that case, they often look for an example from which they assume that I would gain better comprehension: “Like knotted carpets…”
“Knotted carpets, I beg your pardon…”, I try to utter – but they already are deep into the topic:
“Yes, imagine, you are dealing with knotted carpets. Would not you like to buy the most pristine quality for your customers at the best price?”
“Then imagine that you would meet a manufacturer that offers you all that: The finest texture, most delicate patterns – and at a price well below that of the other competitors.”
“Isn’t it? But now you would find out that the carpets are made so finely only because they are made by children who have very small fingers. And because they are kids, the manufacturer pays them badly and shares that with you in terms of low purchase prices …”
“Although the carpets would be in fact excellent as well as a fine bargain, it would probably be no longer arbitrary to you, how this result was achieved.
Moreover, perhaps you would instantly make use of your freedom, namely your freedom of will and your freedom of choice, in the interest of your dear customers and possibly also in the interest of those exploited children – to not become part of this retail-system.”
“In doing so you demonstrate that you use your freedom both sustainably and committingly.”
“The part with the sustainability is apparent to me – but the commitment remains a bit nebulous…”
“Look Oligotropos: You sorted out the dishonest manufacturer…” “Yes …”
“Now, however, you do not want to just remain a passive shareholder in the carpet business in order to be no longer exposed to similar, dubious offers. That’s why you want to actively participate and to arrange things, to take some circumstances into your own hands.”
“Now it dawns on me…!”
“Yes, e.g. you are founding a quality offensive that promotes better conditions and fair trade. You are supporting the artisans on site and fight with them for the recognition of small local businesses…”
“And then I am committed?”
“If you are serious and consistent in your actions, yes. Do you remember that on the Oligoamorist’s Stone there was also the term ‘integrity’, which means that the individual’s actions are based upon an internally consistent framework of principles?”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“That’s good, because it’s obvious that such a process can not always be a Sunday stroll. There will be challenges, difficulties and even setbacks …!”
“I think by now I know where this is going…”
“That’s right, we’re already on the relationship level:
If you are appreciating your own freedom as well as the freedom of the others in sustainability and commitment, you can not manage your relationships like an equity fund. Which means: Release your own shares and opt out, if there are any problems or the share price fluctuates – and start looking round for greener pastures then.
Which, by the way, also introduces the predictability again – that we have already mentioned when talking about trust: Integrity and predictability go hand in hand in relationships…”
“Clever philosophy, I guessed something like that …”, I murmur to myself, because I’m still sitting all by myself on the beach and no soul can be seen far and wide. Only the flute in the distant forest has been joined in the meantime by the tam-tam of a hand-drum, which resonates from time to time.
“That might be well as it is”, I yawn, “… but that way one still seems to remain somewhat dependent, yet: On the stock quotations, as well as on the well-being or woe of the loved ones in a relationship… ” With this thought, I doze off in the afternoon sun.
The sounds of the flute and the drum, however, seem to blend into my dreams and soon I can almost see the two musicians in their forest clearing with my mind’s eye:
They laugh and play to the sounds, thereby feeding each other lines, improvising and changing their parts over and over…
At that moment I realise that the Oligoamorists tried to tell me a deeper truth with their strange carpet example:
In matters, where I have a choice, where I intervene creatively and participate actively, I am not dependent. Especially in respect of things that are close to my heart, that I have embraced myself and which pursue with passion.
And all of that although sometimes there may be discords and even if – for a time – someone else carries the tune… Conjoined and yet free …!
I wake up abruptly. The cuja-cuja nectar is overturned and has long since seeped into the sand. The music has faded away. Oligoamory, you strange island…
I fold up my camping chair and return to our small eco-sphere, which has been the centre of our small camp ever since my arrival. At the entrance of it is my companion, she is just talking agitatedly into our radio. Maybe with someone from the press, but in any case with someone from the mainland. She gestures while exclaiming:
“Why is commitment possessive? Where is your problem?
I can not stand it when I talk to someone and want to know something about this person, when that one declares: ‘Hmm yes…, somehow I’m something, somewhere between… well, and…not quite…’
What does ‘Knowing thyself’ and then ‘Explaining thyself’ in subsequent communication, so that the other person has a chance to know – rather than to speculate where I stand – have to do with possessiveness?
And that doesn’t automatically mean that people may not develop or change anymore!
Or are you worried that people could rely on your statements, and you couldn’t bend it in the way that suits you if the occasion arises?”
I smile and think: “The Oligoamorists themselves could not have said it more distinctly…”
“You are free to choose,
but you are not free to alter the consequences of your decisions.” ¹
Not according to my reason: It is the appropriate self-attribution that our actions (or non-actions) are always switch points, which will therefore invariably have an impact on the whole chosen course.
¹Although circulated in various versions on the Internet, this quote originally stems from the former US Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994).
My thanks goes to Toa Heftiba on unsplash.com for his fine image of the carpet-empire and to my nesting-partner Kerstin for her ingenious remark.