There was a short but distinct period of time in my life that began a few months before this picture and ended about five years ago. There were many moments where it looked good, and in certain respects it was good, but an underlying reality, an "alternate truth" was still hiding in the shadows. All relationships are built on trust and the one I was in had none. It was only a matter of time before it would crumble and fall.
Even at this early time seven years ago, the signs were there. But I was committed, convinced that we had "love" and that love would conquer all. Stupid clichés like "love is all you need," would drive my commitment forward long past the numerous and less painful exits along the way. I am here to say, in no uncertain terms, that love is not now nor has it ever been enough. Without trust, respect, selflessness, empathy, compassion, concern and a host of other very real principles, love cannot work its magic.
My family and my friends - everyone - recognized the signs. I did, too, but I hung on to that stupid rationalization that love would save the day. Everyone included me, but I ignored the signs until way later in the game. Yes, game, because love without all that other stuff is a game complete with winners and losers. But even though they all saw what I justified away, everyone stuck with me. It is as though they were putting their faith into this idea that love was enough, too. And, it is romantic, right? Everyone loves a good love story - the beating of all odds so that in the end two "soul mates" find each other in each other. Please...
It doesn't work that way. Love takes work and it takes a certain level of character such that the partners can absolutely, without question count on each other. Love, like life itself, is not a game.
Today, and for some time now, I have that relationship in which we trust each other implicitly. Christine is not only my lover, she is also my partner and my best friend. We do not "complete" each other, we don't even "need" each other. Each of us is perfectly capable of navigating life without a partner. However, we found each other when we were each ready, each with our past experiences, past failures and lessons that, for us, apparently, had to be learned the hard way. The benefits of embarking on this journey together midway through our lives are numerous; perhaps the most profound is that any sense of urgency to get or be somewhere is not in the equation. We are, very much, living in the moment.
I was leery. I'm pretty sure my family and friends were, too. After what happened last time, what was I thinking? Well, simply, the answer is that, more than anything else, this time I was thinking. Maybe too much, but I had to be sure. One of Christine's favorite stories is about our first coffee date and how long it took us (me) to get to just that. It is true, I was not at all sure I wanted to get messed up in another relationship and I already knew that I liked her. We have much in common, we see the world in a very similar way and as that first date turned into many more, I learned that we have those characteristics necessary for love to succeed. And while everything else can be developed, my experience is that love itself cannot be "created." It is either there or it is not.
But it is also not enough. So, with all my analytical powers, along with the love came to be, I cautiously entered into this relationship. She says she was sure before I was, but she also did "investigate" me. She asked our mutual friends about me, about my character. Although we approached it in different ways, we both did our due diligence. We both had to be sure. And to this very day, we are in no hurry. We are living in the moment. This picture of my three boys playing ball on Christmas Eve seven years ago epitomizes that. While the storm was coming, at that moment, all was perfect. Today, that perfection is much more than momentary.
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