Wednesday, June 02, 2010

For the record: I do not believe that women who can't find good mates necessarily want to be single, or are too picky, or are otherwise sabotaging themselves in the search for love.

I don't believe that people who can't get a book published in today's marketing climate are secretly afraid of success.

I don't believe that the 10 percent of our population who is unemployed wants to be so.

I don't believe poor people are poor because it is a reflection of their inner poverty or an "out-picturing" of their negative thoughts.

I don't believe that people who have cancer or MS or AIDS or any other terrible disease are full of toxic emotions that made them ill or in any way want to be sick. (I think most of us are full of emotions, some of which are indubitably toxic. Some of us were lucky enough to be breast-fed and/or to have inherited strong constitutions. Others drew the short straw in the genetic lottery, and/or had environmental factors that affected them.)

I have friends and acquaintances who are wonderful people who believe we can control our reality by how we think, by diligently "doing our inner work," by going to therapists or life coaches and uncovering all our issues. But that theory--seductive as it may be with its promise of mind over matter control-- doesn't jive with my experience.

I was single for years and years and I wanted to be mated. It's damn hard for a woman over thirty-five to find an available worthy loving man. I had to work hard for fourteen years--and I did: personals ads, going dancing, getting "out there", all the usual and unusual stuff-- before I found Christopher. Even then, I believe there was a strong element of luck involved. For which I am deeply humbly grateful.

I think it's damn hard to get a book published or a play produced. (Even though I have done both, and again, it was a phenomenal amount of hard work plus that luck thing.)

I think it's hard to have a family, especially when you are an alternative kind of person, not employed in a job with health benefits, not married young, to your high school sweetheart, not living within easy reach of supportive family. Not impossible, but difficult. Some people surmount the difficulties, others, for whatever reasons, try like hell and still find themselves unable to. This truth sucks. It hurts. I hate it. Yet I prefer an unpalatable truth to a big nice plate of delicious steaming bullshit.

I don't know why some people have an easier time finding the things that will make them happy in this life. (I say this counting myself lucky and happy and very very grateful.) I wish everyone had what they most needed, and the time to enjoy it.

We humans can create meaning out of dirt. We can find beauty and lessons in deprivation and hardship; we can grow from (almost) anything. But that doesn't mean that we caused or wished for or even needed those difficult circumstances for our growth. I have grown tremendously in three years of deep unconditional love. It's been a lot more fun growing in this way than it was growing alone or dating men who were unavailable.

This is a minority opinion in the Bay Area, but it's my truth and I'm sticking to it. I say, Keep wanting whatever it is you truly want and keep working and trying all the real-world external things you can do to get it. It's worth making a fool of yourself, combing through personals ads, going on blind dates, enduring folk dancing or Sierra Club hikes, or whatever it is you have to put up with to find love. It's worth braving disappointment, rejection and heartache along the way, if that's the cost of the ticket.

Some of the things I once thought I wanted were not the real deal. When I was young and a voracious People magazine reader--all right, I still read it--I wanted very badly to be famous. But I've come to understand that fame is a difficult thing to manage at best and a monster that eats your life at worst. So I'm glad I didn't get that. Semi-obscurity is actually much more workable for a poet.

Love on the other hand has been everything it was cracked up to be and more. It has changed me more profoundly than years of therapy, church or synagogue attendance, or any of the worthy activities I undertook to touch that ache in the center of my soul. Yoga does the same thing for other people; or shamanic journeys, or service work, or even writing. And some people are better off on their own, single. I know that. You don't have to be married to be happy. Hell, for women the statistics say the exact opposite.

But for me, the personal, intimate, one-on-one, domestic, sexual, romantic, stubborn, sometimes frustrating and challenging human love I share with Christopher is what I needed to bring me home to the heart of life. Knowing what I know now, I would go through everything I had to go through again to find him, to make this. I would do it in a heartbeat.

6 comments:

David Shearer said...

I think it would be great to be at the end on one's life, and looking back on it, be able to say, "...I wouldn't have done it any other way."

Joanna said...

Thanks Allison. Personally I think most of us really need to learn about themselves on their own before they can share their lives fully (if they choose to do this) but sometimes if you find the right person this journey can be deeply shared. I am so happy you found what you longed and worked for. And I too think most of that Secret stuff is crap. Life is just not that simple.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you posted here.

I also believe, however, that at energy levels that are beyond the current conprehension ability of most humans, that people do choose, or create, their own reality. This does not happen at a conscious level and maybe not in this lifetime -- IF -- a big if.. . if there is such a thing as reincarnation and/or destiny.

For me, the fact that some people seem to suffer quite a lot in 'this' lifetime while others seem to be better able to get what they want, I often consider that I don't know anything about other people's past lives, or future destiny. The puzzle of why things happen, in this lifetime, to good and/or bad people, and good or bad things. . . this is part of the majestic complexity of this thing called life.

With this perspective, part of the work of being human is to become equanimous with what IS, to accept whatever the universe (or the gods or the goddess or our own innermost beings) has chosen to present to us in this lifetime.

Maybe someone who would like to be in a relationshp but can't find a life partner is working on other things that will prepare them for a future life in which they will get the perfect mate. Maybe someone sleeping in doorways and begging for food is a very highly evolved being who has chosen the lessons that homelessness and poverty will bring, to make that being better prepared for some future, but presently unknowable experience.

I hate it when people use the new age philosophy that "we create our own reality" to suggest that someone chose cancer or someone chose loneliness. We can't really know why anything unfolds for another. And we can't really know what another's experience is.

The thoughts and shared assumptions (i.e. culture) that make up our shared assumptions as we engage in thinking about your thoughts, Alison, are, ultimately, mere hunches.

No one knows.

We don't even know if it is better for you to be happily married. Maybe your happiness is preparing you for a hard-knock future life. Or, and I much prefer to think about it this way, maybe your marital bliss is preparing you for even more bliss in your future lives.

If there will be future lives.

We just don't know.

One thing I know is that if we practice being loving, being empathic, anything is bearable.

I love your comment, Allison, that humans make meaning out of dirt. I got an image of the way plants will sometimes grow in the middle of a city sidewalk or a parking lot. When I read your line, I have a sense of life emerging out of endless cracks. Life itself is what matters. In this moment, I can be, NOW, happy and content, I can dissociate from what I long for that I do not yet have and I can dissociate from the blessings I do have. In this moment, I am happy. This is the work. Chopping wood, carrying water.

And, now, I ask you this, Allison: I sensed an undertone in this post. Are you angry? You seem to be arguing. Are you arguing with someone, something within yourself, with some thoughts? Or are you happy? I hope you are happy and you wrote what you did to savor your blessings. I know you do savor your blessings. I don't mean to sound preachy. I am curious, though, about why this post and what is the tone I am picking up on that I am guessing might be some anger? Are you quarreling with someone? with a philosophy? Or just being you out loud?

Alison said...

That is an interesting comment. in answer to your question about the undertone of anger, or argument in what I wrote: I witnessed a youngish (actually forty-something) woman in my writing class the other night who wrote about her disappointing search for love, and her misadventures in dating. I could resonate as that was my experience for many years. Someone else told her that "single people are single because they want to be, and as soon as you get clear on what the benefits of being single are for you, what you are getting out of it, then and only then will the situation shift for you."

because i am the teacher it was not appropriate for me to say, "Bullshit!" But that was my thought. I think...well, you know what i think, because I just wrote a whole blog post about it. And, really, it doesn't matter so much what i think; some people believe that everything that happens is God';s will, and others that we are the authors of our own fate, and everything in between. Different philosophical stances appeal to different people for different reasons. I can understand why believing that on some level single people are choosing to be single and lonely might make someone feel better about that fact. I just remember clearly that when folks offered me that bit of "wisdom" I felt a very strong very clear No! arising in my heart.

I knew I wanted to be partnered, I knew I was not blocking my own path. I kept encountering men who seemed good at the outset but then turned out to be not partner material and it broke my heart over and over again.

On another (and far more serious) level, I know my friend Carla really wanted to live. I know she didn't want to have ALS. When she was in the diagnosis period she said to me more than once, "I can feel how deeply I don't want this."

Ultimately she struggled for and at times achieved a kind of equilibrium of being okay with whatever was, whether it was health and life or illness and death. At other moments, it was just too hard and she suffered because she had so much vital life force and could have been using that force to perform and make love and have adventures, rather than trying to swallow a morsel of food without choking.

So I do get mad at people who have facile New Age explanations for suffering, because I think it's just a distancing/defense against reality. And I don't think it's all that helpful. (But then my ranting may not be all that helpful either.)

laurie b said...

i, too, traveled for a long time through life before finding the right partner. he was in my ninth grade science class but twenty-five years went by before we realized we were meant for each other. i often wish we would have got together sooner but i am so grateful for what we have now. thanks for putting into words how i feel about being with someone who is the one.

Maya Stein said...

Oh Alison. Thank you. This speaks to the hope I carry, as well as a certainty that that hope is, eventually, going to land me somewhere good. I carry that, too, but you said it so beautifully, so poignantly and powerfully, I have a better understanding of my own heart. Not too shabby of an accomplishment for a Thursday afternoon...

lovely, just lovely.