• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,906 other followers

Six Billion to One


There is something like six billion souls inhabiting this rock that hurtles through the infinite void of space as the only home we know, at least for the time being. It’s a cold, cold universe and the only warmth in it (at least as long as you’re not too close to a star) is that which we generate with each other.

But with so many people in the world, how do you find the one that you’re meant to be with? A one in six billion shot is lotto odds, after all.

We have tried to explain love in scientific terms, to rationalize it; we’ve written poetry and songs about it, made movies about it but in the end, there’s no real easy way to understand why we connect soul-to-soul. The human heart is as mysterious as a black hole and much more complex. Scientists can at least take readings of black holes, make quantifiable measurements. Nothing so concrete can be done about something as ephemeral as a feeling.

There are all sorts of things that attract us about another human being. Much of it is physical, the appearance of the face and the body. Sexual attraction can be the first step in finding true love, but more often than not that particular desire flames out pretty quickly. Still, physical attraction is absolutely a part of the equation; it’s just not the whole of it.

True love can evolve out of friendship. In fact, I’ve often told people who have asked my advice on matters of the heart that lasting relationships are based on friendship, not lust. When you have true love, you want to spend every moment with that other person. Sure, the romance is there and so is the lust, but you want to hang out with that person, too. It’s not just the sex and the cuddling; it’s also sharing a pizza, watching a movie, talking about things both deep and inane. Even silence is okay; you’re happy just being in the presence of your soulmate and enjoying the moment.

The important thing to remember is that life is just that, a series of moments that are there and then they’re gone. While we remember the big events – weddings, funerals, vacations – often the most persistent of our memories aren’t event-related at all. Often, the things we remember with the most fondness are the unplanned things, the mundane things. One of my fondest moments of my married life is going to pick up Da Queen at work early on after we’d just moved to Florida and we had one car between us and two jobs. She’d had a rough day at work, but the smile that came on her face was delighted and genuine. It’s a powerful thing to know that you’ve just made someone’s bad day all right just by showing up.

I knew very quickly with Doreen that we belonged together. It was on our very first “real” date, an event that we commemorated by getting married on the anniversary of it. It was a feeling of coming home, of being where we were supposed to be. Some say that love is not wanting to be with somebody but needing to be with them and I guess that’s true, but for us, it was knowing deep down inside that we were in the right place.

It was also the right time. Looking back, it was a series of amazing coincidences that brought us together; both of us had just broken up with somebody and both of us were in a bad place, emotionally. In fact, our biggest concern early on was that we were one of us or both of us on the rebound and we took great pains to make sure that we weren’t. Sometimes one of us will lament that we didn’t meet earlier in life (I was 36 when Doreen and I first met) but when I think about it honestly, I wouldn’t have been much of a partner when I was 26 or even when I was 31.

I didn’t have a lot of relationship experience then. I was terribly shy as a young man and had difficulty approaching women. Some women who I knew as a young man and reconnected with on Facebook or by other means have been simply amazed when I told them that I had huge crushes on them back in the day. They often ask why I didn’t do anything about it or say something.

My response is almost always the same – I didn’t think I had a chance in hell and I was terrified of the rejection. I didn’t have a good deal of self-confidence back then; in fact, I had almost none. My self-image was one of a pudgy, awkward and not physically attractive person that didn’t have much to offer anyone from a romantic sense. Even now, years later and after more than a decade of marriage, I still find myself channeling that shy, sad and empty young man and all those self-doubts come flooding back. I understand though that he’s part of who I am and although I don’t feel that way about myself anymore, deep down a part of me does and that’s a part of myself I have to overcome. It’s an ongoing process that never ends but at least I’m winning that particular war.

The point is that had I met Doreen ten years earlier I probably wouldn’t have put myself out there, even though I know I would have wanted to. Even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have known what to do in a romantic relationship. I had to learn that painfully, through a series of romances that failed, largely in most cases because of my own inexperience and not knowing how to sustain a relationship. I look back at how awkwardly I handled my relationships and it’s a wonder that I didn’t get clocked in the head with a baseball bat.

Sometimes we need to go through a lot of different relationships in order to find the right one. I look at all of those failed romances as learning experiences that taught me how to truly give myself to someone else. Without those other women (all of whom I still genuinely care for, and some of whom I’m still friends with) I certainly wouldn’t have been much of a partner at best and might not have gotten Doreen’s attention at worst, so I feel a sense of gratitude when I think of those relationships, not so much a sense of loss.

They all led me to where I am now, and that is really what the process to true love is, a journey. It’s one that doesn’t leave us unscathed; we often have to endure a great deal of pain to find that joy. I envy those who find their soulmates on the first try – it is impossibly rare and beautiful when it happens. Most of us have to go through many failed attempts before finding success.

Most of us want that true love more than anything tangible; fame, wealth and success pale in comparison when we think of how much we want to be joined together with someone to spend the rest of our lives with. Experiences that are shared, after all, have far more significance than those we have alone.

My advice to those who are still looking for their One is NOT to look. You can’t force the issue and wanting someone to be your soulmate doesn’t mean that they are. Most of the people I know who have found the person that is their soulmate found them almost accidentally, when they weren’t looking for it. And when you find them, you’ll know; it’s deep, absolute knowledge that fills you with contentment and warmth. You’ll want to have sex with them, but it won’t matter if you don’t. You’ll be happy either way; and perhaps that’s the mark to look for, where the physical attraction is there but immaterial. It’s just icing on the cake.

I’m very grateful for what I have with Doreen. I fully realize not everyone gets to experience what we have, and to be honest I never expected that I would. I didn’t think anyone could feel that way for me and quite frankly, I didn’t think I deserved it.

That was ignorance and hubris on my part. Everyone deserves to have their other half. I did, and you do too, even if you think you don’t. It may require some patience and a little faith that things will work out the way they’re supposed to and it may even require you to have your heart broken more than once, but each moment of heartbreak, every second of self-doubt and every mistake that we make leads us to the right door eventually. All we have to do is knock when we get there and have the courage to go in once the door is open.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: