Short story #24. The Arrangers of Marriage (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Returning Reader

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the queen of spades.

Story: The Arrangers of Marriage, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [from The Granta Book of the African Short Story]

Comments: I first read this story in Adichie’s short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck, a few years ago.  It is about a young Nigerian woman just come to New York where her new husband, also Nigerian, is a medical intern.  The marriage has been arranged between their two families.  It deals with her reactions to many surprising things – the first one being that the “house” her husband had spoken of turns out to be “a furniture-challenged flat”.  There quickly follows her discovery of the extent to which her “new husband” (this is how she refers to him throughout the story) wants to become Americanized and to cast off many aspects of their Nigerian culture.  There is…

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of love and action

It is not the love of our neighbour, it is not the love of mankind, which upon many occasions prompts us to the practice of those divine virtues. It is a stronger love, a more powerful affection, which generally takes place upon such occasions; the love of what is honourable and noble, of the grandeur, and dignity, and superiority of our own characters.

Rilke on what it means to love

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate — ?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. Only in this sense, as the task of working at themselves (“to hearken and to hammer day and night”), might young people use the love that is given them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must save and gather for a long, long time still), is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.

I MISS YOU *******

Do you really miss the person? If you’re not remembering them accurately, you might be wasting time on someone who doesn’t really deserve you.

——

Are people capable of missing anything or anyone? Or are we only missing our interpretation and memory of that thing or person?

It sounds like the same thing, but it’s really not.

In essence, we aren’t actually capable of missing or loving anyone for the exact person he or she is.

Instead, we are only capable of loving and appreciating people and things for who or what we understand them to be.

This is obviously reason for concern, but at the same time, it explains quite a bit in terms of how it’s possible for our emotions and the love we feel to be so incredibly fickle.

By judging, we create a set of beliefs that we have about an individual. As the relationship grows, we tweak. Sometimes, however, our interpretations of that person are way off the mark — which is one reason people fall out of love.

People judge — we all do. It’s the way we were built, and it will never, ever change. By judging, we create a set of beliefs that we have about an individual. As the relationship grows, we tweak.

Sometimes, however, our interpretations of that person are way off the mark — which is one reason people fall out of love.

They fall out of love with the person they thought they knew because they’ve grown to understand the person who actually exists — and it’s not the same person.

People interpret, then recollect and slightly alter their memory of that person before again interpreting that memory of that particular individual. People are f*cking complicated.

Sometimes the way we remember someone is very similar to the person he or she actually is — or, at the very least, once was.

But we like to romanticize.

We like to focus in on the way someone made us feel rather than the way he or she acted and treated us.

By doing so, we focus in on those strong, pleasant emotions and allow them to cloud our entire memory of an individual.

Again, sometimes this memory is right on the mark. Sometimes we have every reason to miss someone. Unfortunately, the opposite is just as likely to be true.

Sometimes you don’t miss the person but instead miss the idea of him or her.

This person treated you like sh*t, but you can only remember the good times.

You miss having someone in your life — it’s completely understandable. People don’t like to be alone.

Yes, some of us manage much better than others, but it’s just about always due to necessity.

No one chooses to be entirely alone unless he or she has some psychological issues.

Sure, we all like to be alone from time to time, but only from time to time. Inevitably, we’ll get lonely and want to have someone in our lives to share our lives with. It’s completely natural and nothing at all to be ashamed of.

What you should be ashamed of is allowing yourself to miss people who treated you like garbage.

They may have been incredibly nice to you on special occasions, but life isn’t full of special occasions.

If it were, then there would cease to be a need for the term.

If you’re missing someone who would constantly hurt you because he or she simply did not care, then you need to take a step back, take some time to get reacquainted with your reality.

You cannot allow yourself to be all right with being used and mistreated. You simply can’t allow it.


You only miss this person when you feel alone.

There’s actually a very easy way to differentiate between true love and everything else we confuse to be love. People miss someone from their past when they are lonely or sad.

The same people look into their past for someone to lean on when they need someone to lean on, but have no one to turn to.

That’s not love — that’s you grasping at straws. When life is difficult, we never want to be alone because having someone in our lives would make things easier.

As human beings, we’re always interested in making things easier.

This isn’t real love. It’s loneliness stretching our imaginations and allowing us to dwell on memories that are more interpretation and less actual reality.

If you seem to only miss someone during the hard times, then try not to be fooled into believing you actually miss him or her.

On the other hand, if you can miss someone even during your happiest moments, then you have a true reason for missing that individual.

If you look at your life and all the happiness you feel, and the first thing that comes to mind is, “If only she (or he) were here to experience this with me…” then there can be no argument; you love this person.


You don’t miss the person you were with, you miss the person you were when you were with him or her.

When we reach back into our past and remember past lovers, the experiences we had together, the feelings we felt, the memories we created… we aren’t so much thinking about the person we were with but rather the person we were when we were with him or her.

People are very egocentric. It’s our nature. It shouldn’t be shunned but should be embraced, better understood and a bit better controlled.

We don’t remember the person we once loved because it isn’t possible. We never directly interact with people; we interact with our interpretations of them.

And our interpretations are very malleable. We reach back and make changes to the way we understand people and things, as well as how we feel about them.

Regardless of all of this, the fact remains that the things and people we believe matter most are the things and people who affected us in the biggest way.

This is something many people overlook: We remember the way people affected us and not the people themselves.

Sure, we remember the things they did that made us feel the way we felt, but in reality, we are honing in on the resulting emotions, not the causal actions.

With that being said, what we are really missing isn’t so much the individual as it is the reality that having that individual in our lives allowed for.

We miss the way we felt and the people we became when we were with him or her. We miss the people we were because they were better versions of the people we are now.

This may be almost entirely the result of nostalgia, but nevertheless, it is the reality we live in — regardless of whether or not we realize it or accept it.

People are capable of loving the same individual forever. We are capable of missing him or her and capable of understanding what we managed to lose or give up on. Yet, this is rarely the case.

More often than not, we are exhausting ourselves emotionally on individuals who don’t deserve our attention. Learn to differentiate, and your life will lead you in a much brighter direction.

By Paul Hudson

– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/you-dont-miss-the-person-you-miss-the-idea-of-that-person-kt/#sthash.xkhI9V9g.dpuf

Willful Blindness- Maria Popova

Whether individual or collective, willful blindness doesn’t have a single driver, but many. It is a human phenomenon to which we all succumb in matters little and large. We can’t notice and know everything: the cognitive limits of our brain simply won’t let us. That means we have to filter or edit what we take in. So what we choose to let through and to leave out is crucial. We mostly admit the information that makes us feel great about ourselves, while conveniently filtering whatever unsettles our fragile egos and most vital beliefs. It’s a truism that love is blind; what’s less obvious is just how much evidence it can ignore. Ideology powerfully masks what, to the uncaptivated mind, is obvious, dangerous, or absurd and there’s much about how, and even where, we live that leaves us in the dark. Fear of conflict, fear of change keeps us that way. An unconscious (and much denied) impulse to obey and conform shields us from confrontation and crowds provide friendly alibis for our inertia. And money has the power to blind us, even to our better selves.

Human search for meaning

Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.
‘We were at work in a trench. The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad, and grey their faces. I was again conversing silently with my wife, or perhaps I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. “Et lux in tenebris lucet” — and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.’

A liberal decalogue- Bertrand

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

-Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
-Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
-Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
-When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
-Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
-Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
-Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
-Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
-Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
-Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.