First off, if you still haven't "de-lurked", please do so! It makes me happy.
Do check out a terrific post from Russell Arben Fox on eating, weight, consumption, and the sense of the self: The Fat of the Land. It's lengthy, but for those of us who are more than a little obsessed with body issues, it's a splendid and thought-provoking meditation.
I'm still hoping to run (or at least bike) this weekend. Days without serious exercise have left me feeling sluggish, and I'm doing everything I can to keep the anxiety at bay. Lifting weights and Pilates sessions have helped considerably, but nothing creates that sense of peace in my brain like an hour or more on the trail or on the bike. And of course, I'm scared of gaining back the dozen pounds or so I've lost since June.
Amanda has another sterling post on the same issues we've been working through here at my blog and elsewhere. Writing about autonomy and marriage and feminism, she puts things very nicely when she writes:
Because if you're needed by someone, you can never rest assured that you're wanted by someone.
To which I say "yes, yes!" But even in my "yes", I know that almost no one goes through their life without needing to rely on others. We begin our lives vulnerable and dependent, and we end them vulnerable and dependent. It's only for a little while, and only for the middle-class Westerner, that we can enjoy some years of saying "Yes, I can meet all my needs on my own." Much of that sense of comfort is based upon our economy (and upon consumer borrowing); one can imagine any number of scenarios that could, in future years, force millions of the formerly autonomous into necessary interdependency!
This is where I'm so torn about autonomy as an ultimate goal, for women or men. This is what I also find so disheartening about the whole "fish/bicycle" discussion. Sure, separatists of all sexes can claim that we don't "need" marriage anymore, that both men and women (at least, again, of a certain economic class) can have independence and freedom without having to rely on another for survival. Insofar as it liberates women -- and men -- from having to stay in unhappy relationships where no growth is happening and no joy remains, that's a good thing.
But I say again, in the end, we're all going to be needy. When the dementia comes, the arthritis, the cancer, the big hurricane, the economic collapse -- events large and small will guarantee that all of us will need others. For the rich and the single, these needs can be met by those whom one pays. Presumably, the affluent childless plan on having paid nurses caring for them at the end of their days. They plan on being bathed and fed by those whose only motivation is financial, or at least whose love is a general love for humanity rather than a personal one.
Yes, communities of friends can substitute for the kind of bonds that marriage and childbearing create. I've long been aware of that. But few, especially among the affluent and the careerist, will choose to stay near their friends rather than move away for a job opportunity. Moving away, starting over alone in a new city -- that's a common experience for so many of the young of a certain class. Email and text-messaging works only so well to keep the bonds of affection strong across the miles.
But I ask again, who will be there in the end? The nurse whose shift it is you happen to die on? Or those whose souls you brought into this world, whom you once cared for, and who will now in due course be there for you?
When folks of either sex rhapsodize about living single and childless forever, these are things I think about.