“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.”
Thus begins the opening of The Odyssey by Homer (Robert Fagles translation, my favourite)
I thought that was a wonderful way to describe my journey of self-discovery about my sexuality, “of twists and turns/driven time and again off course”. It spoke to me very powerfully and I appropriated the simile in my own mind and ran with it, (actually quite literally as I thought of all this a great deal while running this summer and autumn) In the spring and summer of 2013, before coming out I read the Iliad, and identified with the character of Achilles, a great deal, especially the sullen, wrathful, angry, furious part of him which of course drives so much of the action in the epic poem. I truly was the rage he manifested, I lived it far too often, felt it inside of me too much. Then just like that, snaps fingers) as if a surgeon removed a body part in an operation it was gone, once I came out to myself. A new life was upon me. La dolorossa vita (the sorrowful life) metamorphosed into la dolce vita (well mainly, I don’t want to be too polyannish because I have been a curmudgeon for so long!) . It is not easy being optimistic and cheerful when you are so used to being pessimistic, dour, gloomy. Believe me I know. One day I will write something about Ovid’s Metamorphoses which I very happily devoured in the spring, as if prefiguring what was to come in my life this summer. That is “Change”, writ large on the canvass of my being.
Back to our hero. The Vita Nova. the new life. I was now Odysseus, going home (to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus) It was all new to me, uncharted waters. What is the Odyssey by Homer? The story of adventures, trails, tribulations of a journey. Not a smooth straightforward voyage at all. Nor do I expect mine to be linear. Evolution and life are not that way, as a good friend never tires pointing out to me. Here are false starts, valleys, peaks, troughs but it is all different now. The Iliad (my old life, now discarded quite happily, it never truly served me well, so begone with thee) is about war, battle, fighting, which is such a fitting way to describe how I warred against myself all this time, not ever truly getting to the bottom of it, to the core issue at work. I was blind unto myself.
Now that I have entered upon the next phase of my life, it will be pastoral, bucolic by comparison. Think Virgil writing in The Georgics (the peasant in the Italian field, given we are in a mood of antiquity today) I truly do not expect a life of sex-drugs-rock + roll because I am too much of an athlete for that. Probably sex-relationships-romance-love. All co-mingling, interpenetrating one another, overlapping. My hope is that I can be like the character of Odysseus as he is portrayed in the Iliad, that is the wise strategist, wily, clever etc.
Being bi thus far has been a forward motion thing in my life. Sometimes lots happening, other times consolidating what has transpired but there has been this sense of movement and advancement. That is enormous progress. Before coming out my sexual existence in the broadest sense was more akin to what was once said about the field of metaphysics and progress within. I believe it was Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher who through up his hands once and wrote (paraphrasing) :
“in every field of science, people are continually advancing forward, but in metaphysics, (the philosophy of being), we continually revolve around a single point without ever advancing one step forward.” I read that over 3 decades ago in a philosophy class and have remembered it ever since.
“Launch out on this story Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will-sing for our time too.”
(Book 1, vss. 11-12)
That’s what this blog is all about, my story and I hope by telling it in my own way to shine light on ‘our story’ (the bi community).