Did the Ark-building Patriarch put millions of species in potential jeopardy? Or does the fact that they survived change him from jeopardising, Divine Voice Hearing lunatic to Hero of the Hour?
I blame Noah myself! If the bugger hadn’t insisted on animals two-by-two-by-two tripping, crapping, snarling and whimpering on to his Ark, we wouldn’t have this obsession with being paired in life!
Okay, we also would be an animal-free world – and that would be tremendously sad – but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!
Seriously, though, the need to find a mate for procreative and life-sharing purposes has been overtaken, in all too many cases, by this kind of Quest for the latest Fashionable Consumer Durable race against everyone else of your particular gender.
People feel lost, uneasy, poverty-stricken, left behind if they don’t have a partner – and, in some cases, this leads to, ‘Bring the husband/wife out, like the posh frock and matching accessories, on high days and holidays – and then leave the stained and wilting (read that how you will!) handbag, cravat, spouse in life’s crammed wardrobe until the next social gathering at which you are determined you will outshine everyone else – and have the best-looking Arm-Candy (male or female) depending from your elbow,’ syndrome.
Ye gods, that sentence was so long and tortuous that even I had trouble herding it into sense’s pen! In fact, a few metaphorical ewes may well have escaped through a weak comma’s gate and run for the hills of complete nonsense!
We ask, ‘Are you married?’ – or, at least, think it! – at a very early stage in any embryonic friendship. We speculate upon the partner-status of those we meet. We check for wedding and engagement rings. We wonder about someone we like’s gender orientation. We mentally undress and make love to, or dress up in meringue-like finery (or morning suit, depending on the gender) and get spliced to within days of falling in love.
In other words, when setting foot upon life’s potentially deadly flood-escaping Ark, we grab the nearest creature of our particular species and run up the steep gang-plank a deux! And, if solitary, we often feel that we are in danger of becoming extinct!
The poor old raven had a hard press, didn’t it? Sent out to find dry land, it signally failed – and the mythology surrounding it has been pretty dark ever since. One assumes that there was also a Mrs Raven perched on a portion of the deck’s railing, along with the uxorial types of the vulture, albatross, dodo, starling and shag, wiping a worried tear from her eyes with her sable wings and worrying that dear Ronald had got lost at sea – and that she would be shunned thereafter as a Husband-Free failure.
Must be exceeding galling for the aforesaid raven to know that, due to happenstance, luck or simple superior avian SatNav, the dove, green sprig in its gob, has, ever after, been associated with peace and rainbows and those protesting against Nuclear technology.
Amazing the difference a simple inch on the Ordnance Survey map can make to a creature’s reputation!
Where was I? Oh, yes…
So, from Bible times onwards, most women, bitches, does, queens, cows and fillies have, as it were, waited at home, oft-lamenting, whilst their Significant Others went out in search of dry land in one form or another.
Now, this is all very well and good, and rather touching, and a bloody good story (if a little sketchy on some of the details I would have wanted to be told – latrines, animals for, to give but one example!), but how does it tie in with my admittedly somewhat circuitous thinking?
This is how: Mere biological imperative can only get one so far in life. Yes, most of us get the urge to mate in the strictly biological sense on a regular basis – and, let’s face it, finding another body able and willing to get stuck in does not, in terms of difficulty, come anywhere close to Feeding the Five Thousand or ruling a country!
But, what about the quality of the communication, the bond, between the mating pairs, eh? Going back to the Ark, was it a case of all the males gathering in the boat’s equivalent of a Sweat Lodge, tossing off their troublesome fur and feathers, ingesting some illegal substance, smoking the Pipe of Peace and yammering on about sport, DIY and which of the younger fledglings, foals and puppies they fancied? Was it also a case of all the females bitching in the kitchen, metaphorically, and telling one another in graphic detail ALL the ways in which their respective males signally failed to live up to the ideal?
Did the ribald comments start way back then, with Mrs Sparrow nudging Mrs Albatross and saying, ‘Cor, he can plant an egg in my cloaca any day of the week!’?
What Noah’s Ark fails to mention is the after story. I mean, reaching Mount Ararat and all that gubbins, jolly good show, very impressive, Amundsen and company couldn’t have done better, have a Blue Peter badge – but, what of the animals once the Ark came to a halt and the waters had receded? And what of the extra-marital adventures on board, eh? Not so much as a mention! And, if you expect me to believe that conjugal faithfulness was strictly adhered to throughout those forty days and forty nights, think again! I’ll bet the divorce rate once dry land was reached went through the roof!
In all seriousness, though, I do think this story illustrates an important, perhaps crucial, point about relationships: Gathering creatures together two by two for the continuation of the species is only the start – and, actually, can be the least important part of the equation. Pairing does not guarantee a deeper bond – and connections do not have to end in a pairing.
Just because the Bible told us we have to go two-by-two through life does not make it true. And, often, we are so desperate to grab our partner, any partner who is good-looking and could be fertile, before the rains fall, that we forget about spiritual and emotional connection. In our haste to trip up the aisle, it is easy to assume that friendship and shared interests will follow, that we will not simply use our partners to make us look better when we go out into the world socially.
Maybe Noah’s animals were already friends before he rounded them up. Maybe they chose their other halves after due consideration. Maybe they all lived happily ever after Post-Flood, and marital bliss was the name of the game!
But, with so many relationships starting with, ‘Whoah! I want to have sex with you!’ and ending with, ‘Hope you don’t mind, but I am having sex with someone else!’ I feel that the biological imperative governing our loins is, perhaps, a tad out-dated as a reason for having to have a mate!
I am in no hurry to pair up in that Biblical sense. Bonds of the mind, spirit and emotions are far more important to me at this stage. Not having a partner does not make me a failure – and, let’s be honest, at my age the old biological clock stopped working years ago and I am not one of those women keen to prolong fertility past its natural end!
Sex? It’s a fantastic sport! Should be included in the Olympic Games! But, it is not the be-all-and-end-all of human endeavour. What we forget is that the sexual urge, which is hugely powerful, can be channelled into other parts of the communication between two people; that intimacy is far more complex than the joining of genitals – and that, in our frantic need to pair up, we sometimes forget about the importance of friendship!
I blame Noah myself!