Porcupines, physical distance and emotional closeness

And if you took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
I’d’ve jumped from my tree
And I’d’ve danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would’ve fared well.

-The Shins, New Slang

Thinking of Schopenhauer and his Porcupine’s Dilemma tonight, and sometimes I wonder if I prefer the cold. I am not good with emotional closeness; I don’t know if it is because I sincerely doubt I will be understood in a way that I want to be understood, because I don’t understand myself fully enough to accept myself, or because I just don’t ever want to be understood completely by another person and have my values rejected. I just don’t know. I  do crave emotional intimacy and understanding; I just don’t know when to say that enough is enough, or if it will ever be enough, or to even know when I reached a point where I can be comfortable enough with someone to feel like I am emotionally comfortable enough.

It’s much easier to seek physical closeness. It’s simpler, less emotionally risky, much more transitory. The implications are less significant, less lasting. It’s always made sense this way to me: why seek quick emotional involvement with someone? Why get married before having sex? It just didn’t make sense. That was the truth as I understood it, and I assumed that everyone else who didn’t was just wrongheaded. Evidence was everywhere:  high divorce rates, chronic unhappiness with marriage, cheating (case in point).

And yet, I feel adrift without that emotional closeness. I feel myself craving the comfort and understanding I had (and I threw away). I feel unmoored, unconnected. I’m not sure if I crave belonging, understanding, not hiding. At the same time, I know that once I find my porcupine, I will inevitably crave the cold again, and ultimately  either find myself being driven away by her quills, or driving her away with mine.


1 thought on “Porcupines, physical distance and emotional closeness”

  1. I’m lookin’ in on the good life I might be doomed never to find. Without a trust or flaming fields, am I too dumb to refine?


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