“for heads that are disposed unto schism and complexionally propense to innovation, are naturally indisposed for a community, nor will ever be confined unto the order or economy of one body” — Sir Thomas Browne
I awoke to find that today was the two year anniversary of this blog’s very short life. It seeming wholly irreverent to not post something, I am here now posting something. The trouble is that all yesterday I had plenty of material, and now I have nothing but complaints about traffic in my town. People in the Little Apple drive as if they are in the Big Apple. But I can’t truly say that for I’ve never been to the Big Apple. Now, to my point. It occurred to me that I have never written, in my two years on this blog, on being fickle. Indeed, I have written on a whole host of topics, mostly irrelevant and too verbose for anyone to truly care. But everyone should know about fickleness. What is fickleness? How do we recognize whether or not we are fickle? How do we better become fickle? What preventative measures can we take? Where is fickleness generally played out in our society? Why does fickleness matter? Who is fickle? As a general — and I’m sure, very misogynistic — rule, females¹ are fickle, and you either are one or you know one, and it makes for a good future if, planning on living with one some day, you know this truth. Lest this come across as too harsh, I must admit, that I am fickle. As those who are on the inside generally know best, I will proceed with an analysis on fickleness.
That indispensable resource, the Oxford English Dictionary, tells us that fickle originated sometime around the 13th century, meaning primarily “false, treacherous or deceitful” as in Spenser’s “fickle freakes.” Thankfully, that definition is past us. We now take on the less offensive, though no less-damaging, definition of “changeable, changeful, inconstant, uncertain, or unreliable.” As in Juliet’s “fickle fortune.” It is, of course, natural that Juliet would make an appearance here because if we are honest with ourselves, it is in love that fickleness rears its ugly head. How ironic that Juliet called fortune fickle when her own lover was pure fickleness to the bone?
Now before we discuss love, we must also note that the OED, that indispensable resource, also gives us a plethora of compound words using fickle which we would have never thought to use before this very blog post.
just to name a few (and disregarding the all-important fickle-pickle!). We do not have the time or capacity to look at all of these in detail or at all. What I want to truly discuss about fickleness though is how it is often overlooked. Our Lord is described in theology as being immutable. And good thing he is! Imagine halfway through creating the elephant, he decided to create a platypus? Or if he decided that the whale should suddenly be a seagull? Dare we apply this to the sixth day? The absurdity of it all is a chance to reflect on the immutability of our creation. Here I am, an odd looking specimen if you sit down and think about it, and yet I was created out of immutability: my self is what was unflinchingly purposed. No revisions here.
This leads to the an obvious deduction. If God is immutable, and I am fickle, there is something quite unnatural about my “strange mutability.” And this becomes even more obvious when we apply our fickleness to the situation in which it rears its ugly head the most: love. No man (I speak not for the women) is more unhappy than when he is a fickle-lover. This fickle courtly-lover is generally not fickle in choosing who to love, but deciding if he actually loves at all. Most, young courtly lovers do not actually love more than one woman at once. Here the main problem is that the courtly lover is romantic. He has set up for himself some sort of unrealistic ideal which he has projected on all those poor women that cross his path. Of course, due to the nature of their loveliness, it appears to most courtly lovers that at times, in certain moments, this angel from above meets his every wish. She can do no wrong, and they will ride off into the sunset. Naturally, as we have already mentioned, females are fickle as well. Thus, at any-given moment, for any-given reason, their sentiments may change, not due to anything negative. Simply because. This type of fickleness is not too be deemed as a negative insomuch as it should be deemed a miscommunication. Perhaps we could come up with a better word, but I’ve no patience or time for that.
Anyways, that this lovely angel (apparently) changes her mood, the courtly lover finds himself completely befuddled and decides that perhaps it is best if the two part ways forever and never speak again. The rash decision is only due to his innate fickleness. He cannot make up his mind whether he is to actually love this woman or not, and so he forever spins around in a dreadful circle of confusion, driving everyone and everything in his path to near insanity. He never eats, can’t sleep, is altogether joyful and forever depressed all within a day’s time because of his fickle-love, the worst kind of dreadful fickleness our planet has to offer. It is in this situation that we can begin to understand why those weary pilgrims who came before us decided on the now outdated definition. Indeed, females have a right to say that “men were deceivers ever,” for truly, the fickle-lovers running in circles around us are deceiving everyone they meet. Themselves foremost.
Well, we must decide on what to do with fickleness. We have defined fickle and analyzed it within a particular social setting, now we must do something with it. As was mentioned, our Lord is not fickle. By these standards it should be therefore reasoned that fickleness is certainly a sin. The inability to remain constant in a thing is not just annoying for everyone around you, it is detrimental to your spiritual well-being. It is within the example we gave that this becomes tricky. For God is love and we are to love, but can one love without any fickleness? It would seem that in all our literature and experiences with the matter, love is not love without some sort of fickleness. If I simply do not care about anyone in particular, I can make decisions without worrying so much about the consequences they will have on those around me. This creates its own sort of chaos, but we retain some sort of ability to remain (selfishly) constant for the most part. It is usually when we begin to care about someone that we begin to second guess our decisions. We become torn in a love for our old ways and a love for a new person, and consistency in anything is very, very difficult.
Add to this the emotional roller coaster which caring for another person will do, and you have a very fickle individual, unable to decide really what he thinks at any given moment. I suppose the analogy could be drawn between a fickle-lover and a man who has discovered a new country (though let me state that the two are no related in the least). The new country offers many good things, but a certain longing to continue doing things the same way as your home country is completely natural. The analogy falls flat, but hopefully a general truth remains: a divided love is a divided soul.
The end result on fickleness must be that it is generally a negative attribute, though the paradox created when love enters the equation should tell us something: fickleness may be a sign of more life than not. While the best scenario is to be a wholly constant lover who never wavers in his devotions, I am not sure this is entirely realistic and only a few attain it this side of heaven. But our Lord commanded us to do many unrealistic things, and to this end we should strive. If we do not, and wholeheartedly decide to continue on in this world without making definite decisions, it may be we’re stuck in our own self-centered farce.
¹Throughout this post I make wide-sweeping remarks regarding women. I trust it is not offensive, but I apologize in advance (or after the fact depending on when you read this) for doing so.