Saturday, November 22, 2008

examples of: change, nothingness, love

It's the human condition for life's circumstances to rise and fall away, never staying in one form forever - and relationships are not immune to this. Some last longer than others, it's true; but eventually, change will have its way with us. Life has Its own plans, no matter how stubbornly we cling to what was before or to what we think is right or should be.

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In high school, my best friend was always there for me. He was kind, smart, cool, cute – and straight. That was the part I could never get over. It literally drove me crazy trying to cling to him; and as much as he cared about me, in the end, I drove him away – until much later when things calmed down for me. You can only do so much for someone (and God bless him, he did!) until the time comes when they need to step up, take over, and do their part. I wasn't ready for quite a long while, but I was eventually able to find that sincerity. We've been cool for a long time now, but I credit him for helping to nudge me in that direction.

The next example took place a few months ago. As a personal dare, I decided to put myself (or the tip of my toe, to be more truthful) out in to the dating pool; just for fun; just to see what could happen. I listed myself on Match.com and immediately began to doubt myself as I talked to more and more guys, noticing how very different my life circumstances are from other men my age. That noticing definitely brought with it a certain amount of loneliness and doubt. I quickly decided to cancel my account and try again in the future. And then right when I did, someone sought me out.

We got along immediately! Famously! We chatted, we texted, we spoke on the phone for hours. We really seemed to get each other. Only a few times in my life have I had such a karmic remembrance of someone, so much so that I knew for certain I'd known this person in another time and place – and he was one of them. You know the small quirks, sense of humor, little pleasures people have? We shared those. We told each other we loved one another. He even met my Grams. I genuinely welcomed him in to my life and I genuinely felt lucky.

Then, one day out of nowhere, he stopped returning my phone calls, my text messages, my e-mails. I asked him to please just let me know if he was okay and what was going on. He apologized and said he was going through some stuff and I completely understood that, so I gave him his space. But then as the days passed, he withdrew altogether and I knew I'd been blown off. I felt like I'd been a naive fool – and perhaps I had been.

The most recent thing was the culmination of a years-long experience with a Brazilian that I've been hopelessly infatuated with since the day I first saw him. He is another of my great karmic auxiliaries. We've never met in person. We did the online dating thing for a time, long ago, and I was so ready to pack up my bags and leave for his country. When we reconnected more than a year ago, it felt for me like no time had passed. It wasn't quite the same for him and he wasn't interested in starting something he wasn't positive we could finish – and if it would even be something we'd end up wanting to finish. Logically, I understood, but habits borne of the devil are seldom easy to break. I couldn't seem to let it go! The passion I felt for him was intense and often hurt. It was like a throbbing, metaphysical pain that would never let up. It was always in the background; it was a relentless siren keeping me alert to my sense of deprivation. We'd go for periods of time when we would not speak because the whole thing felt so hateful and incorrect.

Then, by the grace of God, I began to see how crazy my attachment to this guy was. Yes, he was a friend. Yes, he was sexy. Yes, I knew some of his life story. But I didn't know him. I clung to him like I did my friend in high school because I was trying to remedy like hell what was going on inside me. This was during my loneliest and most desperate time and I wanted an escape. I was in "love" with the struggle of trying to be in "love" – not with him. I see now that he's not the god I'd imagined. He's rather ordinary, in fact; as precious and as insignificant as we all are.

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After being there for me countless times before, one day, my friend from high school walked out of my life when I shut down and ceased giving anything of value in return. He saw that I was screwed up and wasn't interested in changing. To leave was the kindest thing he could have done for both of us. Sometimes a person has to wander around lost until they're ready to give up and finally seek direction. I think he must have known that.

The Match.com dude walked away without any warning or explanation. Maybe he truly was going through something rough. Maybe he was killed in a car accident. Maybe he genuinely liked me but just wasn't ready. And then again, maybe it's true; maybe he just straight up didn't like me. I opened myself up with complete honesty for someone in a way I never had before. And what did he do? He silently, and very, very quickly vanished - just as he'd appeared. Yes, it hurt for a minute, but did I truly lose anything other than a dream? Even though it wasn't with his words, he was incredibly honest with me. He trusted himself enough to know that for whatever reason I wasn't the person he wanted to be with – and then had the integrity to carry it through. He did us both a huge favor by not wasting our time or pretending to care. How could I be anything short of grateful?

And my foreign friend and I are at a truly beautiful place right now. We have a clean slate, in a way. I now see that the person I was so intoxicated by never even existed, not really. I hadn't taken the time to really get to know him. And now that I see I need nothing from him, I can truly care for him. Also, I can open up and let him really get to know me. Or, now that the spell is broken, maybe we'll never speak again. It doesn't matter – and that's what I take from all of this.

I think that's what love is. It's an acceptance – an all-encompassing, "take it or leave it" state of being. An unconditional acceptance of people, of how they are; a respect for what people are going through and where they are at. It's knowing that things don't always last and we don't always know what's best. Things seldom go the way we expect them to. Love doesn't mean that things will go your way. It doesn't mean that you and some perfect person will be together forever, idyllically happy. It means allowing Life to do its job and to allow the course of your relationship (in whatever form is has) to take its natural course. It's a giving up of control. It means that sometimes saying goodbye just so happens to be as valid and just as honest as saying "I love you." Maybe even more so.

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