Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happiness is...some distance and perspective.

I am one who has always been a fan of details, the minutae and nitty gritty of things.  But more and more I'm learning that sometimes the details leave you confused.  Often clarity and understanding only come when one is able to step back and see the bigger picture, the scope and panorama rather than the intricacies of a situation.

I had a conversation with someone recently about the ins and outs of love and the only thing we could safely conclude is that there is no logic behind it. None. Whatsoever. Again, the details don't seem to make sense, but when viewed on the whole somehow the pieces tend to fall into a cohesive pattern like a tapestry or a mosaic and you're left with something seemingly illogical but beautiful nonetheless.

There was a saying floating around in the not-so distant past that a single woman of a certain age was more likely to be killed by terrorists than to find Mr. Right. Now that the threat of terrorism is real I haven’t heard a substitute ‘fate worse than death’ phrase. But some days that’s exactly how it feels. You move in and out of flirtations and crushes and endless first dates (or no dates at all) and you feel as if all the odds are stacked against you. When you like someone they don’t like you and vice versa or your levels of ‘like’ are nowhere near equal and you find that the thing you hoped would take off is never going to leave the ground.  It can leave you feeling rather hopeless and discouraged. And yet it happens all the time (usually to other people!) :)

I’ve dated a fair bit in the past and I’ve grown to love each person I’ve had relationships with but it isn’t often that I can claim to actually having been in love. Yet, even the less serious relationships have lead to growth and learning and understanding and emotion on a level far beyond anything experienced in a 'normal' day-to-day relationship. And sometimes saying goodbye to someone you love can be just as painful as saying goodbye to someone you're in love with. The problem is, when you bare your soul to someone, even if it's not completely but just the teeny tiniest part, you open yourself up to the possibility of unbelievable pain. Because "none of us is delicate enough to touch anyone else without hurting them a little bit." *

And unfortunately it's the gift that just keeps on giving. You brace yourself for the inevitable discomfort of breaking things off or expect the anguish that comes from being dumped, and once the initial misery passes you assure yourself you're in the clear. One moment you're walking along, whistling, the sun is shining, you're minding your own business and then it happens. Wham! It sneaks up behind you when you're not looking and knocks your feet out from under you and you're lying on your back, the world spinning around you, knocked completely breathless and disoriented.

Or there are those occasions when you feel brave and strong enough to face it all head on and it sucker punches you right in the gut, the pain so intense and sudden that the tears come automatically and you're gasping for air and wishing you'd just die already but knowing that no matter how much you wish it it just isn't going to happen.  Eventually the shock will wear off and you'll breathe again, still living with the pain, like a bruise under the surface, invisible to everyone's eye but your own, knowing that someday when you least expect it you'll get punched again...and again...and again. Gradually you'll become a bit more immune, the punches hurting a bit less, the breath coming back a bit quicker, you'll maybe even have the power and forethought to block the punch before it hits, but always the threat lingers, a possibility of pain as a balance to all the joy and happiness life was before.

And the funny thing is, while you're going through it (both the love and the pain) you tend to believe that you are the only one who has ever felt that way before; light, elated, invincible, depressed, dejected, devastated. But a myriad of poets and songwriters prove otherwise. Love and the heartache that come with it are eternal and universal themes.

My most recent relationship taught me many things.  I recognized that there are things that are important to me in a partner that I hadn't been aware of before and things that aren't as important as I'd previously thought. I learned some vital communication skills and remembered how to trust and give bits of my heart and self to another person and how to accept bits of them in return. But it also taught me that no matter how much happiness and thrill I may feel at times if it’s not complete it’s not worth it.

So, against all logic and at the risk of suffering more pain (or of possibly first meeting my demise by terrorists) I am determined to hold out for true love, for that person who I can share books and music and laughter with, someone who appreciates and even encourages my quirks, someone who has similar goals for the future, someone who will want nothing more than to spend the rest of forever and beyond getting to know all of me inside-out and back again, asking only that I do the same for him in return. It’s a tall order I realize and yet I’ve had tiny tastes of the glorious possibilities through each previous relationship I've experienced. And I’ve seen the fairy tale come true for people around me.  But it’s not a Disney fairy tale with magic wands and a godmother who makes everything fall into place and the elusively bland 'happily ever after.' The magic is in finding the right person at the right time who is willing to work as hard as you are for something bigger and better than either of you could be or do on your own (though I do believe there will be a certain amount of pixie dust and miracles along the way!) It can happen and it will.  I know you’re out there somewhere and I will find you (Yep, that’s both a threat and a promise!) and I guarantee our lives will never be the same.

That is my treatise on love, at least for today.  Ask me again in a week and I'll probably have something else to add! But for now I'll leave you with a few appropriate tunes, the evolution of my life in song, because someone always says it better:

Disclaimer-My real life does not include this many Michael Buble appearances, or bad early 90s country hairdos...just so's ya know. ;)

*from The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes


  1. Wow. Thank you for your words. You are one smart cookie (and writer, and person in general).

  2. So well said. You are such a beautiful writer and person. I wish we would have been able to know each other better growing up but it really has been great getting to know you through your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That Judy Garland song is both haunting and so appropriate. Hope your heart is starting to feel better. He's out there.

  4. Thanks for the kind words ladies. I'm so blessed to have such great friends!