One of my favorite characters on television is Hank Moody, the focus of the Showtime series Californication. Hank can most readily be described as definition asshole, man-whore, scumbag, fuck-up and whatever other choice word you can think of. At the same time, he is sort of like poetry in motion… tragic yet beautiful, shallow yet complex. He seems wrong in all the right ways, a fallen hero you hate to love, and still, love to hate.
Hank is constantly “making his bed” and then “laying in it” – often with some bimbo or a teenage girl, or most recently – the mother of that same teenage girl (yes he went there), all the while hoping he will make it back into the arms and good graces of Karen, the yin to his yang, and his daughter, Becca. Hank knows in his heart that he should be with his family (although we all know he doesn’t deserve to be).
Californication is a television show, sure, but it touches on so many aspects of the light and the darkness that constitutes love itself—not just that romantic, white picket fence, Disney fairy-tale ending, kind of love – but real love… raw and chaotic and passionate and scary and well, real.
I’m talking about love on all levels – the unconditional love between two people that can’t seem to live without one another, the love for breaking the rules and playing the game (often to find yourself unexpectedly alone), the love for the opposite sex in general – that love for lust that is sexually right, but in every other aspect is just plain wrong. I’m talking all love, including the unexplainable love that a parent has for their child, the love that we may or may not have for the person in the mirror, and that deeply loyal, “I’m here for you, even when you’ve fucked up beyond belief” love that exists between the truest of friends.
I’m starting to sound like I am writing a review for Californication (which yes, everyone should definitely watch) but being an addict of the show got me to thinking about my own life, as well as the lives of my friends and the lives of you guys – our dear readers. What exactly is all this LOVE business? Not as depicted by Californication or Disney… but what do these love connections mean for YOU? for us? Where is the LOVE in your life?
As far as men go, many chicks are still in search of their fairy tale ending. Like all humans, I think it’s fair to say that we all want to feel loved on some level. However, no one ever talks about how frightening and confusing it can be to get to that point. You always hear about guys fearing commitment—scared to relinquish their lives and personal goals for a female- deemed a threat to the entire existence they have created for themselves. But what about us girls? Who’s to say that we don’t share these fears? The last time I checked, a lot of us do.
When examining the research on infidelity (oh the joys of becoming a relationship/sex therapist), I came across some interesting results. While early research implies that men are more likely than their female counterparts to participate in acts of infidelity, recent research suggests that those numbers have leveled. Women are now just as likely as men to cheat. Why? Well for one, a lot has changed since our grandmothers’, and even our mothers’ times.
Women have become fiercely independent! Women have careers! Women are owning their sexuality (not that these are excuses for the inexcusable…they are certainly not). I’m just keeping it real here; women don’t “need” men like they used to. Unfortunately, divorce rates are at a whopping 52%, which implies that most people (men & women), who aren’t happy, are opting out of the relationship rather than sticking it out.
Although these statistics sort of suck, they speak to something else: women aren’t as easy to tie down as once thought. Maybe women are just as afraid of commitment as men are. It seems that there are quite a few Hank Moodys walking around – and a lot of them have vaginas.
So what does this mean for love? Are we not taking it seriously? It’s wonderful to find love in other places other than a partner… like our children, our dogs, our careers, and the lives we have built independently for ourselves. However, in an effort to avoid being hurt, are we afraid of romance? Are we investing all of our stock into relationships that we believe guarantee us love in return?
Is it really okay that our population is turning into a bunch of Hank Moodys? On that note, is it cool that Charlie Sheen is being put on a pedestal? Unless you want to lose the respect of people you care about, end up in jail, or catch a nasty case of gonorrhea… probably not. What the HELL is going on people?
In an individualistic culture like the home-of-the-brave, why do our selfish asses have such a big problem with commitment? I mean, it’s okay to be selfish right? Yeah sure, when you are devoid of all responsibilities. But Selfish a la Hank Moody? Let’s not push it. The looming question is, are we selfish? Or are we SCARED?
Think about it. If you are running- what are you running from? If you are chasing- what is it that you are seeking? If you’re caught somewhere in the middle, like Hank Moody, what is it that has you feeling stuck? How much are we actually committing to our commitments?
Commitment to love is an especially scary concept for anyone (male or female) – it can make you feel vulnerable, tied down, and even weak. However, being selfish to the point of Hank Moody will ultimately leave you feeling lonely. Being in love doesn’t mean that you have to lose your mojo. If the person is a good match for you, your mojo will double. That person will bring out the best in you. That’s what love does!
I am no stranger to this fear. Commitment has been a scary thing in many aspects of my life, including romance. After some trial and error, I figured out that love is kind of a push and pull. Don’t force it. Don’t run from it. When love makes its’ way into your life… just take it for what it is, and rock with it. If it doesn’t work out – move on.
If you are in a committed relationship and you aren’t happy, think things through before you are quick to bail on it. The grass isn’t always greener my friends. Sometimes, it’s just a different shade of green. It’s also going to be greener where you water it - a little communication and a lot of honesty go a long way. If it was always easy, it wouldn’t be great.
At the same time, don’t sell your soul and your standards trying to work it out when it’s just not working. Whatever you do, don’t play two sides of the white-picket fence, because ultimately, you are just playing yourself. Moving in a circle serves no purpose. Move forward…One, two, step. No looking back!
Ladies (and gentlemen) Don’t be your own worst enemy. Don’t be Hank (even though he is an awesome character to watch every Sunday night). When you find your happy place, whatever that means, surrender yourself to it. For Hank, it’s Karen and his daughter, Becca. For you, it might be something very different. In any case, remember the contracts you have “signed” in your life, and do your best to hold up your end of the bargain. Never expect more than you give… from your kids, your friends, and yes, even your dogs.
If the lovebug is biting you, don’t be scared of it. If love hasn’t found you yet, don’t force it. If love came into your life and fell apart- don’t be bitter about it. If you fucked up- don’t dwell on it. There is always room for romance if you are willing to welcome it when it comes-a-knockin. Bottom line, wherever it is that true love exists in your life, don’t take it for granted—CHERISH IT.