Short essay on the chasm of unorthodox views

TUESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2004

It is totally to be expected that the unattached single person will seek someone with whom he can suspend his solitary existence for a brief period – if a better arrangement than that cannot be reached. A rich variety of problems, however, sometimes prevents the best among us from crossing the divide between I-on-my-own and I-together.

Unorthodox views on life, human existence, what and who we are, religion, politics, and what people do with at least eight hours each weekday are one of the factors that inhibit the leap across the chasm.

The author of this note, as one or two readers may by now have realised, is one of those miserable souls who is convinced his own beliefs are so unusual that people who haven’t known him all his life and who have made their peace with the words that so often flow from his lips would be so terrified of him that they will run screaming to the nearest bus or train station to establish as much distance as possible between themselves and this strange creature.

Like most other miserable armchair philosophers worth their butt-contoured cushions I of course blame other people’s short-sightedness – if people could just broaden the passages of their own minds by tiny degrees, maybe push open some windows, and occasionally enter through a different door to the one they normally use, I won’t be able to keep up with all the social appointments.

It is also true that I find myself in an environment where potential female companions can be divided into two major groups: women who were born and raised in Taiwan, and women who were born and raised in Western countries. In reality the latter group, for my own purposes, amounts to women of my own country, who mostly share my language and cultural background.

There is an important difference between Taiwanese and Afrikaans candidates, as far as my person is concerned: my unorthodox views, and my lifestyle in which these views are a daily palpable reality, are a much more pertinent topic of discussion with the latter group. It is, in many cases, for example, easier to get away with my particular religious beliefs with a Taiwanese woman who either has no clear religious beliefs, or who follows her own mixture of more than one religion, than with an Afrikaans woman whose identity and worldview were probably formed in a Calvinist household.

The environment that is Taiwan is also conducive to me being a full-time “writer” whilst still earning a good income as a part-time “English teacher”. South Africa, which is always a very real possibility as environment to which I will return with a female companion with whom I share a language and culture, is somewhat more unforgiving; or the challenge to set up a life in South Africa that is similar to the life I lead in Taiwan is much more complicated.

My so-called unorthodox views almost always come into play with Afrikaans women, in a language where I cannot hide behind limited vocabulary and poor pronunciation, and in terms and implications I know we both know and understand very well. Meeting a woman of my own linguistic and cultural group with whom I can share my views and beliefs without inhibition is therefore an exceptionally difficult challenge.

It can be said that I need one of two types of women in my life:

* a woman who is unaware of exactly what I believe in; or

* an extraordinary woman who understands my beliefs and personal politics and who thinks broadly enough to be able to say: “I don’t necessarily agree with everything, but I like you.”

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