I'm Going, Wanna Come?
Life is a gift. That's what Lewis Hyde concludes when looking at traditions around the world, where women are "given in marriage" and men are given "as sacrifices." Quite literally. Says Hyde, "The people of Fiji saw the two as equivalent gifts, the woman who is "brought raw" to be married and the "cooked man" who is sacrificed to the godking.
Okay, can we freak out now? Because that's kind of how I felt when I read this chapter. Very distressed.
There was this one moment when I caught my breath though, when he discussed how children eventually go out on their own and "begin to feel the desire to give [themselves] away— in love, in marriage, to...work, to the gods, to politics, to... children." He says that adolescence is marked by "that restless, erotic, disturbing inquisition: Is this person, this nation, this work, worthy of the life I have to give?"
That's when I realized we all become teenagers again at certain junctures. Life opens, a new space, a turning, some kind of longing... and we ask the question afresh... is this person, activity, thing worthy of the life I have to give?
Just the other day, I brushed up my adolescent inquiry skills and asked that question. And decided yes. So I'm going. Wanna come? At least for the view, if not for the journey itself?
Wedding Dress in a Cage art, artist unknown. Photo by L.L. Barkat.
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