I don't blame myself for missing signs or signals in past relationships gone wrong. It wouldn't matter. Love, lust, and intense devotion create blinders that go well beyond the scope of rational thinking. We need this defect to an extent, in order to put up with one another's inherent imperfections.
Something grew out of the mud of my worst break up, and others that came after. Today what I crave more than anything in my relationships is clarity. The only real currency is time, and as such, wasting it would be tantamount to wasting the rarity of my existence.
Perhaps the most important skill we can develop (and gift we can give) as we trudge forward in our quest for gravity defying, soulmate love is to be as graceful as possible in letting go of what is not quite right for us. As Phil Cosineau wrote in the seminal book The Art of Pilgrimage, "Pass by whatever you do not love!"
So if I may offer the most humble of advice, take your pulse constantly when you first start dating someone new. Your questions and concerns are divine messengers. State them, face them, believe that what is for you will always be for you and doesn't take convincing. Cultivate your ability to evade the censor inside you by practicing speaking your truth. That's what life is all about: cracking all the way open, saying all the real things. Recalling your stories vividly and owning your identity. Answering the mysteries of your life out loud. How else could anyone possibly fall in love with YOU as you are?
Often we are dazed by lust and just really want a chance to show someone we like how much they can like us too. We use mirroring and coy charisma to enchant them into the idea of loving us, rather than letting them discover us authentically. The ache to be loved and to belong can subconsciously cause us to alter ourselves in what seem like such small ways, so as to better fit someone else.
"Remember that sometimes, not getting what you want is a stroke of luck" -Dalai Lama
My dear friend Louis once gave me advice that sticks with me to this day: For the first six months of a relationship, you are dating someone's representative. As the clock ticks and facades peel away, prepare for what was hidden to slowly seep through.
And listen, if it's bad in there, at the heart of things: No settling. Just walk away with grace.
"If I ever loved you, I'll always love you, that's how I was raised." -Drake
The best thing a failed relationship can offer us is beautiful lucidity on what we do not want.
I am not attracted to laziness and poor excuses. I am not enticed by promises of potential or pitiful scapegoating. I like a man who has a fire lit beneath him and a purpose that he rides for. I would have done well with a cowboy, or one of those ancient distance runners responsible for delivering news. I could love an architect or a builder of cabins in the wood. A farmer dedicated to rising with the sun to work his land, or a mechanic who revives old cars. I want to see him impassioned and enlivened, knee deep in a cause or project.
What I really want in a partner is someone who is raw, vulnerable, open, pure, authentic, and humble. Someone who takes their integrity as seriously as I do mine, perhaps even more so. That's what I am looking for.
I have found a kind of holiness in going with the flow. Ceasing to fight the current has given my restless mind some much needed peace. My resolution for this milestone year was No Rushing. Every time I catch myself trying to speed through moments I pull back on the reins. In perfect synchronicity, life keeps providing me with reminders to slow down and allow unseen miracles to unfold.
I always reminisce on the same memory when I ruminate on this concept of "enjoying the journey" and not getting obsessed with an exact outcome: I took a classical literature class in high school where we studied the famous Keats poem Ode On A Grecian Urn (You know it even if you think you don't- the one where he famously decrees Beauty is Truth and Truth, Beauty). I had never seen our perennially displeased Professor Uhlman as passionate as he was the day we discussed this poem. Keats describes a romantic scene portrayed on the Urn: two lovers about to kiss, etched into marble memory for all eternity. Uhlman was captivated by this and really tried to drive it home for us, despite our total immaturity and naivety. "The moment before the kiss is the moment to remember!" He yelled. "Anticipation is everything! So many moments in your life will not live up to your expectation, don't get lost in projection!"
Funny how much this lesson sticks with me to this day. I hope Mr. Uhlman knows that his words and translations mattered; Still matter.
"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter" -Keats
The wheel of life turns at a pace we dictate with our awareness and presence. Slowing everything down and appreciating the Here & Now fills the space between one success and the next. Anticipation and a kiss. A trailhead and a peak. Remembering those lovers on the urn helps me find meaning in all the little In-Between's and Almost's that account for most of my existence.
“The honey doesn't taste so good once it is being eaten; the goal
doesn't mean so much once it is reached; the reward is no so rewarding
once it has been given. If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we
won't have very much. But if we add up the spaces *between* the rewards,
we'll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards *and* the
spaces, then we'll have everything - every minute of the time that we
spent.” -Benjamin Hoff
Pictures are from a hike to Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest last weekend. We climbed about a mile past the lake to scope out the secret lake lookout hinted at online but no such luck....Oh well, not about the destination you know? ;)