Elements of Eros

Experiences, Mythology, Psychology, Thoughts

Elements of Eros 

Isn’t it fascinating that in many pantheons of mythology, there are gods and goddesses strictly for LOVE? Personifications of human feelings and emotions via deities are nothing new to discuss. We have all heard of them before. Freyja, Aphrodite, Cupid, Juno, Parvati, and Eros just to name a few. Eros was the son of Chaos (in some variations). Interesting how love and turmoil have been intertwined since ancient times, isn’t it?

Eros was a Greek god of love. He was the embodiment of passion and desire. Some may recognize him better as the Roman Cupid. Without warning, he selects his prey, the innocent and the lonely. He targets the unexpected. With great force and might he strikes their hearts and they are left feeling fluttery and confused. As quoted by Hesiod, he ‘loosens the limbs and weakens the mind’ (Theogony, 120)

Photo by: Kimberly Anne – St.Louis, MO 2021 (Eros Bendato, a massive sculpture by artist Igor Mitoraj)

As quoted by Hesiod, he ‘loosens the limbs and weakens the mind’ (Theogony, 120)

Hesiod, theogony

If you have fallen in love, you know exactly the feeling that is described. 

I certainly know the feeling very well. When thinking of love, I think of also my own solitude as of the last few years. I’ve been so accustomed to life without that significant other now that sometimes I believe it all to be a myth. A real partner surely does not exist in my world. The only people who exist in my world in that respect are people who do not want to stay around. (Please hear: “People Disappear Here” by Halsey) I’ve often found that I am good enough for a little while, but not for anything long-term. But whose fault is that?

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Photo credit: Halsey

That’s how it feels, it seems. Sometimes. The same ones who crave me for just a little while, are the ones who will not give me monogamy when I ask; but they always return. They always come back. Every single one of my “exes” has always come back at some point or another. Considering I’m “alone” it’s like they think I will just be there for them forever – just for them – even though they do not offer me the same in return. It’s a vicious cycle. Satisfying, but rather annoying as well. It’s one of the most contradictory things I think a woman can experience. I’m sure I’m not alone. 

To have one solid person who can just go through life with me and only me would be a dream. I wish I had someone to build with. We’d probably be a great team. I imagine it often! Other than that I do not think anything else is missing from my life. Just a true love. Not lovers. Lovers are easy to find. A true love is not. A consistent love. One that I can make sacrifices for, and one that will do it in return for me. One love that does not hold things over my head. One that does not want to fight, but one that wants to build and go through this very short life together. 

If there is something that I wish I still had that was from my past it would probably be my high school sweetheart, but he is long gone now. That’s a pretty morbid statement considering I am just in the earliest portion of my 30’s. We had our ups and downs, but I miss him all of the time. He was a love that I could write a whole book on, I think. 

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Sometimes it does feel like I’m destined to not have certain things. For example, once I had my son – the only thing I really craved was normalcy. I wanted a “normal life”, which I don’t know if I even knew what that meant. I don’t know if I even know what that consists of. All I knew is that I wanted life to be different than what I witnessed in my childhood. At one point, someone told me, “You can’t have a normal life. You’d be bored with it.” 

Sometimes, I think that is true. But as life’s circumstances have caught up with me and I’ve finally realized the extent of my anxiety – I now disagree heavily, even more than before with that particular quoted statement. All I want now is simplicity. That is really it. The belief that I’m not destined to have certain things probably stems from my experiences. Failed relationships are to blame for the belief, but I am personally to blame for failed relationships. I’ve purposely chosen (in the past) people who were not good for me. Trying to solve childhood trauma via adult relationships will never end well. That is something I’ve learned. I have also learned it is okay to be alone, and it’s okay to be quiet. My solitude now is my joy. 

After three major long-term relationships, all of which so far have not worked out completely for a variety of reasons, I guess I thought at some point that having “the one” just is not possible for me. I did think that before, but I do not think that now. Thoughts change over time of course. If I was in pain and mourning the death of a relationship or marriage, of course, the “woe is me” mentality would be in effect. It’s easy to be bitter when you are hurt! It’s natural to feel that way. But feelings are a temporary state. Love is a choice.

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Thinking of people around me, there is one couple that stands out in my mind. I will not name names, for obvious reasons. But they have been married for many years now and are actually happy. They have a sense of teamwork in their household. There is no misery or hostility. They celebrate their love quietly. They don’t blast all of the social media with their love. They keep it within the home. They get mad at each other of course, but it’s not something publicized. They have balance! I am now thinking about another couple I know just like the first I mentioned. The two couples each have something in common. They are not from the United States! Is this a coincidence? It could be. I’m also partially biased now because I’ve been reading more and more about the differences in mentality of Americans vs. Non-Americans. The differences in thought processes, relationships, and methods of raising children are ASTONISHING. I love this country, but many of the things we have learned are very questionable and should always be questioned! 

Personally, I think my “true love” is missing because I have not been able to experience, or meet that person yet (at this phase in my life). I believe I have had “true loves”, before. I’m also questioning, like mentioned before if “true love” is even a concept that exists or makes sense. What is even a true love? Is it possible to have several over a lifetime? Of course. Is a true love something you feel from another person, is it another person themselves? Or could it be the actions taken by someone who can prove in a sense, that this “true love” thing is not just a fallacy? Is it all of what is mentioned, combined? I’m sure I could put more effort into “finding” this “true love”, and recently I believe I have put more effort. The only one who really knows the answer as to whether or not my effort will work is time. Time knows all things. I like to imagine that, at least. 

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As humans, it is in our DNA and very existence to crave love and desire and the want and need to be connected to people around us. In many ways, I feel connected to people “around” me. That is mostly due to social media. If social media is taken out of the equation, then will I be as connected? Certainly not. There seems to be a drought in my life and country (it feels to me at least) that there is a giant lack of community and family (outside) of social media. In the future, if time allows, I would love to start an organization of my own that can help people establish a sense of family and community – without social media being involved. 

In the last 15-20 years, technology has been both a blessing and a curse to us all. However, before technology, meaning apps like Facebook, IG, and TikTok took over our lives, things were so different. I just remember not knowing where my friends were. I remember not having cell phones. I remember going outside to find them. I remember randomly running into them at random bus stops, parks, or at the train stations in Chicago. That is what I remember. We felt more connected back then, and we actually met up and made plans. Not everyone was easily accessible via social media. We were more connected back then than we are now in a sense. Things were more personal. They were face to face. It’s such a strange time we are living in now. We are connected, yet so disconnected. 

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In a world full of disconnection, it can be a struggle to exhibit values. Values correlate to community, family, and love. When thinking of values, I think many of my own values that I learned in my childhood and teen years still resonate with me today despite the many changes in our world. The values that I believe in, are ones that I’m also still trying to perfect. Lately, I am trying to practice kindness, empathy within my parenting, and as always – being courageous. Not that I lack any major values (I don’t think), but it’s my personal belief that as humans we must constantly strive to improve ourselves in every single area. Nobody is perfect, and this I know, but room for improvement will never hurt anyone. Unless you of course pull a muscle at the gym! Shit happens. When I catch myself having a negative thought or a serious case of road rage, I try to stop myself and redirect my thoughts. It is the least I can do, for my own mental well-being. 

Focusing on well-being, I feel is a good decision and does make me feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Mental health and well-being are important factors for any individual and also for the success of relationships. When things around us go haywire, sometimes the best thing we can do is look within, instead of outward. Look within, right within your heart – right where Eros strikes. 

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Fulfillment at Work – What’s Better? Financial or Emotional Values?

Thoughts

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a teenage me. I worked at a popular fried chicken fast food restaurant. One of my fondest memories was the night I quit working there. It was Halloween night (a pretty big deal for me, and the ONLY Halloween night I ever worked in my life). The night I quit was the same night I had envisioned dunking my rude coworker’s head into the chicken fryer. I was so angry and upset at this woman that I thought it would have been hilarious if I did such a thing. My irrational thinking may sound entertaining or quite bizarre, but I’m practicing vulnerability and showing my true human emotions. If you are at a job or in an environment you hate so much that you want to put someone’s head in a deep fryer, you should probably find something else to do!

Thinking of that night and my other experiences makes me think now of fulfillment in the workplace. Is it better to be happy at work? Or is it better to be paid a higher salary? The only one who can answer that question is you. That thought is something everyone should consider. 

Another memory I have from my teenage work experience is learning to sweep and mop properly. I remember going into those restaurants and the managers having to teach me how to do basic things because those basic things were not taught to me at home. What was home for me anyway? I was on the street most of the time, partying it up with my friends.

With jobs, comes experience, naturally. Of course, we also meet those occasional work friends who we somehow never forget. We remember the wrinkles on their faces, the way they smelled and the way they laughed, and the things they taught us. We remember the heartwarming things that they did. (Or rude things they did in the case of the deep fryer story.)

When I think of caring and heartwarming people at work, I remember Theresa. She was an older lady I worked with as a teenager. She is the one who helped me embrace creativity through food art. She and I decorated cakes together. I was her apprentice. I remember Christmas being her favorite holiday. I also remember her chain-smoking and being dirt poor. Theresa loved her job so much, despite it not paying well. She lived in a suburb just outside of the city, and it seemed that she had a hard life. That was something I could surely relate to, although I was 2 or 3 decades younger than her. Despite my somewhat mischievous ways, she was always there for me. Theresa did not judge me. She was a teacher. She was kind of like a mother figure to me. I think about her sometimes. She would drive me home some days in the blizzards and snow even though she did not have much gas left in her tank. She had enough gas to get home, and luckily for me sometimes wherever I laid my head was in the direction she was going. 

Another memory I have is working at a smoothie place, and eventually quitting because of the pervy manager who decided to sexually harass employees including myself. I applied at a different restaurant down the street due to being uncomfortable, and low and behold – so did the manager who was recently fired from the same smoothie place that I was trying to leave. It just felt awkward! Needless to say, because of me reporting him to both companies, he was fired from each. I think it serves him right considering his actions towards me, and the other female employees as well. It’s unfortunate when people who are in authority positions abuse their power. However, it is likely to happen more often than not.

TRIGGER WARNING – Do not continue reading if you are sensitive to sexual/domestic/violence issues.

One day, I was inside of a breakfast restaurant filling out a job application far on the north side of Chicago. Most of my time was spent on the Northside to be fair. This restaurant was almost on the outer limits of the city. I was around 18 years old at the time.

A man sat alone at a table near me and was eating his breakfast and drinking his coffee. He was a tiny little guy and spoke Spanish to the waitress. He saw me at the cashier counter of the restaurant filling out an application. Back then we had PAPER applications for jobs. What a wild world it was! Some of you will remember, and some of you will imagine. (Someone told me we still have paper applications apparently. I was shocked to know this. I haven’t seen one in years, but I stand corrected!)

I was writing down all of my information on this paper application and the man approached me. He asked me if I was looking for a job. Obviously, and clearly, I was. Of course, I said yes, and I asked why? Why did he ask me? What did he want? Back then I was rough around the edges. I mean, I still am. But my sassiness back then was much more vicious than it is now. I think so at least.

He slid a business card over to me and told me that he owned a nightclub in Lincoln Park. (Lincoln Park has been one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Chicago for a long time.) He said he was looking for a hostess. At the time, it sounded like a dream! He told me that I could start the next night. He told me to dress for the occasion. I was so excited. I picked out new outfits, even spending the money to do so. My mom helped me prepare. She said I looked beautiful.

I wore a small black mini skirt, black stilettos, and a white blouse that was a bit low cut and sleeveless. My hair was put up in a giant long ponytail before the Ariana Grande ponytail was ever mentioned. I wore a black cardigan to cover the tattoo on my back.

I remember it so well. I remember thinking how lucky I was to just have a job fall right into my lap, and not just a job, but one where music would be played all night and people would dance all night. The only thing I would be responsible for was to help collect tickets at the door and put roses on the tables and light the candles. “Make it feel romantic.”, he told me.

Ah yes. I will never forget. That is exactly what I did!

The first and only night there at the club, I thought I scored big. After the tickets were all collected and everyone was inside, I danced with the customers! I danced all night! Luckily for me, the guy who hired me, who now I can’t even remember his name, also danced. It was a big party and I was the luckiest girl ever in the world because I got paid for it! I was offered drinks and shots multiple times, but I never drank back then. It worked in my favor.

Finally, the night had to come to an end. The nameless man told me that I’d be able to leave around 1 am, as the local bars closed around 2 and everyone would be heading home around that time. At the end of the night, I approached the mysterious boss man and asked him for my pay. It was pretty good money too, for being so long ago, and it was in cash. As a teenager, it was a sweet deal to me. He told me that my money was down in the basement. He wanted me to follow him down there in the basement of the club, right to his office.

I can’t remember now if I thought anything of it. Naturally, as an older adult now typing this and reading it, you can see how shady it sounds. We got to his little room (“office”) in the basement of the club. It was summertime and extremely hot. The fans in this little room did absolutely no good. My feet were killing me at this point and I just wanted to go home.

Now, remember, I told you he was small. Smaller than me, and I’m a whopping 5’3 and must have been at least 5’6 with those heels. I remember asking him for the cash and telling him I needed to leave. He kept fiddling around with paperwork and money. I was standing near a desk, or a wall. I cannot remember now.

He kept telling me how good I did. But that’s when it started to feel awkward because in reality I hadn’t done shit (compared to other jobs) but light some candles and make a romantic atmosphere, with roses. You can’t forget about the roses! I collected some tickets from people who didn’t even speak the same language as me.

He kept telling me my greatness, and how beautiful I am. He had the envelope of money in his hand. He handed the envelope closer to me while his mouth wouldn’t stop talking, and I snatched it from him (out of instinct because I felt what he was about to do) as he pushed me against the wall and pressed his lips on mine. He tasted like sweat and alcohol. He tasted like FILTH. I pushed him off of me so hard when he did that and ran out of that place like I was running from a blood-thirsty animal. F*cking a**hole, I thought to myself. I ran towards DePaul University, the train stop was right near there. Fullerton. The feeling of wanting to escape is something that still haunts my dreams and I’ve felt it so many times. Not just this time. I remember actually, once I was far enough from the club I took those heels off and ran barefoot to the CTA train hoping not to step on any glass or needles on the ground. I never saw that guy again. Not once. And I hope I never do. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember his face. 

He did fall backward when I pushed him. That is how I will remember his face. Because the look of shock on his face has stuck in my head like dried jelly on a jar. He must have thought I was weak. Did he think I would let him? That is never the case. It will never be. My only thought now, is what if he was bigger? What if I did not escape? What could have happened? And the worst part is, this is only one story. 

I’d never been myself if I didn’t knock him on his ass that night. And this is why you shouldn’t talk to strangers. Right?

The jobs I talk about before always lacked something. Which makes me wonder about true fulfillment in the workplace. How much work do we need to do to be fulfilled? What kind of work do we need to do to be fulfilled? What does being fulfilled mean to you as an individual?

If you feel very unfulfilled at work it might be time to reevaluate what you are doing. It’s important to find something that you love to do and gives you an ample amount of room to grow as an employee and an individual. If you can’t find the opportunity that you are seeking then you need to create it yourself. Be your own boss. Don’t let yourself hit a dead end. I’m trying to build my path and career where I can help others, impact them positively and be financially and creatively free. Having a work and life balance is important. Life is too short to be unhappy!

One of the best jobs I had, as far as being happy and emotionally fulfilled was when I was a cake decorator. The only problem is I never had formal or professional training (besides Theresa), and the jobs I worked decorating cakes did not pay very well. Should I have stayed there despite not being able to make ends meet just because I was happy and fulfilled? Then there are jobs where I have been paid enough to survive and maybe with a little extra, but my soul does not feel satisfied with what I’m doing. So now I am faced with a predicament, as many of us are. Money or happiness? But does happiness buy money? Is it a win-win? Is it a lose-lose?

I don’t recall any job I had as being the worst. Every “job” is an experience, and that is what life is truly about. If bad bosses count as the worst, then maybe I can think of some. I had a boss once who was constantly angry and on edge for a variety of reasons. He’d yell, speak loudly, insult everyone, slam doors and just make super obscene comments at all of us. I wouldn’t say the job itself was terrible. But the way I and some of my co-workers felt due to the way our boss treated us all, was certainly worse than anything I’d experienced before, maybe. I took the job because it was a good opportunity for me in the beginning. I stayed several years, but in the end, I was able to move on to something greater. The thing is, we need to constantly be moving to something greater. When it comes to your happiness and finances – never stop striving for greatness. What defines that greatness? It’s up to you. For me, it’s about achieving goals and maintaining my values.

My work values (emotional) include wanting to help others, influence them or positively impact them. The external work values that matter the most to me are stability and pay. My dream job would be to be a writer/editor/freelancer and get paid for it. Which, I am well on my way to accomplishing as I have already started. What a dream it would be to fully sustain myself in that way! I don’t hate where I’m at currently, but I can always strive to do better. We all can.

There is a reason I was led here, there is a reason I am here now and experiencing this moment where I currently am. But my true calling is a goal that I am working on non-stop to achieve. 

This past year I have already made changes in my life, that allowed me to prepare for my future career as a writer. I can only hope to improve in the future. What are your plans? Do you think it is better to be fulfilled financially or emotionally in the workplace?