Elizabeth Gilbert recently offered a flake of wisdom I liked, about soulmates. It is a term I try never to use, because I try never to use the word soul. She said (paraphrased) that it can be a mistake to try to make a soulmate into a life partner, describing her own life partner as supportive and comforting, in contrast to the soulmates of her life who have usually been disrupting, upsetting, intensely challenging.
Once I imagined introducing someone to my mom for the first time… how I might say, “He is me.” One doesn’t let a person like that into their heart, but rather finds them there. Like Elizabeth’s story, that person revealed a hidden side of me vividly, instigating a kind of hyper growth of character, although appearing for just a blip in time. I felt as though I had been poisoned and shattered by the experience afterward … heavy price for that intensity. I am not sure I would do it again.
I’m also not sure I had a choice in the first place.
My instinct is that a well-suited relationship can be chosen and cultivated intentionally with a person of like capacities — but I haven’t experienced that, yet. For now there are mirror fragments and deep wormhole-like fractals of such… along with an intuition of wholeness.
I may have found the solution to the obstacle between dating sites and me. It goes something like the following, but I’m still tweaking:
“I’m not interested in a perfect man, but I am probably not interested in one who poses for his photo behind the steering wheel of a car with his shirt off. I would prefer he would be at least 20 lbs beyond ideal weight, and allow me that too. Continuing that line of reasoning, he might do well to be more intelligent than his education and achievement level, while also taking good care of himself and his objects in basic ways. He shouldn’t expect me to be impressed with his car, although I might be. Ditto house or apartment. Shoes are important. He should have an appropriate amount of romantic baggage according to his age level, and the good humor to handle mine. He probably needs to be intuitive beyond reasonable expectations, withstand long quiet vistas, and not mind occasional tests both open and closed book.”
Mostly this was just fun to write.^.^
I began my practice of concentrated people watching during my first trip to Japan, when noticing an older couple negotiate comfort during a four hour delay. Something in the way the gentleman nested for his wife struck me… the way he scoped out the room for their seats and set down their things meticulously so she didn’t have to worry. Their manners were so gentle, and at the time I thought it cultural; they were a Japanese couple and the non-intrusiveness they exuded was particular. They sat next to me, cooing softly without defensiveness, a sweet song… the tune of which I picked up on without distraction, not understanding Japanese.
Though sweet for them, it was a bittersweet melody in me, an encounter that left me marinating in melancholy, slowly brooding over something missing.
I continued this habit, post-Japan, and now have a few regulars I encounter from time to time, like the couple at my current favorite cafe’, who arrive weekly like clockwork, and give the impression that the rest of us are in an extension of their private home… so easy together. They read for a while, then she usually takes a little walk; he reads the papers and she returns to check on him occasionally, without pressure. They seem to be freed by their ritual, as though they have struck the perfect bargain.
These two remind me a little of a couple encountered a few years ago, while a friend and I sat in companionable quiet on benches in New Orleans. It was not quite time for our group retreat to begin, so she worked on music homework and I turned to my journal, writing down as much as I could possibly take in about the environment: the music in the background (“Imagine”), weather (cool, bright), interesting characters (child chasing after a single leaf). This couple was not as elegant as were/are the other two I’ve mentioned, in fact there was some palpable tension as he grumbled about this and that, but, after they’d been sitting together a while she stood up and looked down at him, saying simply with a kind smile before she walked away, “I do hope when I return you’ll be in a better mood.” I appreciated the long view she took, and her light humor. I saw it as a loving gesture to give leeway … not leave as a punishment, yet still care for her own experience.