Traversing the Serengeti of Our Heart
Finding the key that unlocks the secret why a relationship is successful is as elusive as a ferret on a triple espresso.
Through two attempts at unlocking this door, I have learned much. The search for the perfect soul mate is an ideal that is usually a waste of time. This twice divorced, astutely observant man has chased that wispy, dreamlike concept for years. And I can’t figure out why. Through the years, I’ve had front row seats at many unions, failed and otherwise. I’ve watched the typical struggles couples go through, and seen some succeed at those battles, and others fail. What I have never seen is a flawless fit, a perfect “marriage”, if you will, of a man and a woman. A couple that glides through life ABOVE that battle-laden landscape that every other relationship must slog through. A couple that appears to be scar-free, conflict-free and maybe to distill further: just FREE.
So, why would I pursue something I have never witnessed? I have eschewed the concept of faith when it comes to religion and God, but clung vainly to it in my dogged quest for true love. In many ways, my attraction and sappy clinging to that concept runs counter to the intellectual path chosen for most of my life’s other enterprises.
My two divorces, peaceful, sad, but without rancor, leave a stretch of scorched-earth on my resume. Yet I still keep (mostly) my natural cynical instincts out of this particular arena. Maybe my heart simply refuses to recognize cynicism? It still adheres, childlike, to the nurturing nipple of mother, refusing to acknowledge growing older and wiser, and failing to embrace being weaned from such fantasies. I do finally acknowledge, now at 52, that my search is almost guaranteed to go unrequited. Thus far, I will continue to cling to my idealism. Staunchly, if not naively.
I clearly married twice based on my heart’s desires, not my brains. Intellectually, I must have known unconsciously that I was not truly built to live with someone for the rest of my life. Emotionally, I obviously chose a different path, albeit with short-lived results.
Are my heart and mind mutually exclusive prairies, where decidedly different crops grow? Is there an example in my life where they not only co-existed, but forged a cooperative-crossover in making a decision that turned out good for me? Were they ever a team, with the single goal of my happiness as their ambition? I have seen no such successful collusion thus far in my life.
And why am I not wired to live with another person? Sure, I’ve done it. Often. But one nugget of wisdom, sluiced from the pressure-washing my mind goes through every day, is that I would PREFER to live alone, yet remain in a monogamous relationship. And I don’t see any contradiction in that whatsoever, merely an acknowledgment of what would work for me. Neither a weakness nor strength. Just ‘me’. I’ve no desire to play the field, to share what I have to offer with multiple women. I’ve more than enough to offer, more than enough to keep things interesting, with one woman.
But here’s the crux. I have more than enough to offer, more than enough to keep things interesting, to MYSELF as well. I don’t ‘need’ a female presence in my life (any longer) to validate myself as a man. Yes, I ‘want’ a woman to share all of the richness life offers that I have learned to embrace, over the years, and woven into the fabric of my own life. The barrier between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is the spine that runs down the middle of my intellectual world, bifurcating my ego and id.
I choose ‘want’.
Most healthy people are not attracted to needy people. The baggage that comes with that neuroses is more than Angelina Jolie packs on Safari. They will, however, likely be very attracted to someone who ‘desires’ them.
Desire is an attractive, healthy, and natural human condition. It can be a clear cut emotional AND intellectual validation of one’s self.
We’ve all seen rats put through cocaine laboratory tests. They will ingest the coke until it kills them; such is the intense euphoria resulting from its use.
Validation is one of our most alluring, powerful drugs. We are drawn to it, even false versions of it, because we are mesmerized by the lion charging straight at us across the humid Serengeti. That scenario often mirrors our mental state when it comes to allowing another human being inside. There is possible destruction, but also potential for joy and recognition as someone special, the opportunity to be someone’s ‘chosen one’.
We stare down the lion as best we can.
Sometimes we survive.