To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.
- Eleanor Roosevelt
A friend once sent me an article decrying the myth of romantic love. It said what we all know: that our idea of what love should look like, sound like, feel like is pure bull:
"The myth is that there is someone out there with whom your life will be complete, and conversely, without whom your life would be a half-life. A major task of modern life is, therefore, to find this person and, falling in love, to cease to be two and become one".
Been there, done that. I’ve been married, I got divorced. Since then I’ve met some seriously interesting men. Yes, interesting. Also, smart, talented, even brilliant - but all deeply involved in serious navel-gazing (their own, not mine). And yes, I have said this to their faces.
I know some good loves - couples whose relationships are like museum pieces - acknowledged by those around them as something good, solid. The rest of us observe them, and no matter how close we are to them, we are on the outside looking in, standing apart from what we are witnessing.
There are a few of these couples in my world, like strange weeds that refuse to bow down, to be mowed down, to break with the passing of time or the arrival of temptation. These couples are not necessarily the “exciting” ones, they are inward-looking and focused on what they can handle, what they already have. It’s not glamorous, it’s quiet. It’s not the flashy love of movies, of passionate embraces - it’s comforting shepherd’s pie, not spicy, raw tartar. Are we ready for that? Am I?
“The true art of loving is to navigate the shift from falling in love to standing in love”, to borrow the psychologist Erich Fromm’s phrases.
These couples have navigated this shift, they’re standing. I haven’t done that in so long - hit that point. I have fallen, and I have been fallen for, but the standing in love is the hardest part.
I am not waiting to cease being solo, I am not looking to become one with someone. All I ask is that he can handle himself, handle me, bring something good to my life, and let me do the same to his. Be my equal - but different.
Advice for a new year from someone much wiser than I am:
That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose.
People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life.
Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.