androgynous, Desert Flower, desire, embrace, human nature, human need, lost lovers, love, man, mythology, philosophy, Plato, Plato's Other Half Theory, quest, reunited lovers, search, separated, sex, soulmates, Waris Dirie, woman
I watched the moving film ‘Desert Flower’ based on the life of, and co-written by, super model Waris Dirie on Tuesday evening. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, the best part of the movie for me was her potential relationship with Harold Jackson (a gentleman she met in a nightclub). Here was a woman who had survived horrific hardships through her life and still, the thought that a man she had fallen for was “unavailable” broke her down to tears and heartache. This reminded me of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ where Elizabeth’s psychologist friend told her that no matter what tragedy or horror human beings go through, love and all its consequences will always weigh more heavily on us. Yes, it all comes down to love.
This got me pondering out loud on my twitter page where I asked:
We really cannot transcend that innate human need to need and be needed can we?
I got quite a few responses to this rhetorical question that were a resounding
It’s human nature!
My train of though immediately changed rails to a story the amazing Paulo Coelho had shared in one of my most memorable reads: ‘Eleven Minutes’ (I mistakenly thought it was from his other book ‘The Zahir’ for good reason) that explained this commonality we mortals have to need and be needed. . . to find love (yes, especially in a hopeless place a -la Rihanna). I promised to find the story and post it here verbatim but while looking for it I found more information on it and its origin therefore I decided to just retell it myself.
Paulo Coelho shared Plato’s Other Half Theory from his work known as ‘The Symposium’ – a compilation of postulations and declarations made at a soiree hosted by a poet named Agathon in celebration of his triumph in a drama competition. Incidentally, this same symposium is the fons et origo of the modern day Platonic Love construct. The philosophers, scholars, poets and writers present engaged in lengthy discourse on the ever fascinating topic of love to honour Eros, the deity of love and romance. One of the guests, Aristophanes, contributed his “creation theory” which is what is featured in Plato’s Other Half Theory below.
The legend has it that many aeons ago, there existed super beings: the androgynous mortals. From the description they were rotund and oopah loompah like. Creatures that looked like a man and a woman conjoined back to back. They had two sets of arms which made the very efficient at work; two sets of legs that meant they were faster and more stable; two faces that enabled them to be uber vigilant and hard to attack unnoticed; as well as both male and female genitalia so that they could procreate. Unfortunately since they were attached at the back, they could not see each other and so the reproduction was an external occurrence.
The gods (from classical mythology) became weary of the independence and self-sufficiency of the androgynous and feared they may lose their faith and thus fade them away through lack of devotion because evidently they did not need the divine to get along in life. They contemplated destroying them but that would lead to the same fate where they would not have anyone worshiping them so instead Zeus, after an epiphany, decided to use his lightning bolts to separate the creatures into lesser mortals: humans. In this manner, the humans would be weaker than their androgynous predecessors and the gods would have less of a threat plus their numbers would double which would mean more worshipers. And so he struck them all and split them into two incomplete halves: man and woman.
After the attack, the humans were separated, disoriented and weakened. The plan had worked. They were now slower, insecure, less vigilant and stable. And so, for the rest of time after that, they kept on searching for their other halves in order to regain their former glory. They felt incomplete which drove them to roam the earth needing and being needed. What we know know as sex is the “embrace” they use to “reunite” with their lost Other Halves.
This eternal search for our soulmates is apparently just us trying to find our lost “us”. Because we never saw how our “partners” look we know not who they are and just hope that whatever draws us to others in a romantic way is the universe trying to lead us to each other. Sometimes we “embrace” the wrong “partner” and it doesn’t work out because they are not the one we were separated from. still, we get attached to them because we long to feel the sense of belonging, reunion, security, stability and confidence.
I’m not saying I believe this is true (as much as I love myths and legends I do not buy into them, rather I am intrigued by them) but I find it a bitter-sweet fantastical explanation to our amorous expeditions and tribulations. I do believe however, that we all have someone out there made just for us and that is probably the reason it is human nature to try find these people and yearn to be with them.