Now don’t go shaking your head wildly saying “Both!”
You have to choose.
Well that’s probably not true either. Perhaps you CAN have both. Maybe not a lot of both. Maybe mostly one with the odd glimmer of the other?
I just think that as we grow older we are often faced with the choice. And the choice we must make.
I was quite the roller-coaster girl in my misspent youth. More than willing to slog through the lows in abject desperation in order to experience the abject exhilaration of the highs. I craved the Adrenalin rush and I was willing to crash repeatedly to have a shot at getting it again.
Now? Not so much.
But not so much doesn’t mean never. Not so much doesn’t mean I am willing to give up ALL quests for magic in order to achieve contentment. Even though I REALLY want to be content. My blood pressure really wants me to be content. My doctor really wants me to be content.
So how do we reconcile the search for magic with the desire for contentment? Can we actually create magic within the confines of contentment? And is contentment really SO confining that we are forced to look outside of it to find magic?
Ask the guy who is having a mid-life crisis. That stereotypical dude who is feeling his age, longing for his youth, hankering for a younger woman to make him feel virile and forgetting the contentment that comes with family, a true partner, nights in front of Netflix and Sunday barbecues with the neighbours. Maybe not even forgetting. Just willing to trade those things for magic.
And for the record, that mid-life crisis guy could also be a girl.
Because the reality is most magic comes from NEW. Not from ‘been there, done that’ but from ‘I wonder what might happen?’ and ‘I wonder how awesome it will be?’ And then the tingling begins and the anticipation becomes a drug and the QUEST for magic becomes as addictive as the magic itself.
As my son wrote in a really good song – ‘Are you my heroine or my heroin?’
He also wrote “Those who dare not grasp the thorns should never crave the rose.’
You see seeking magic can get very bloody. Especially if you’re giving up contentment to do it.
That said, sacrificing blissful contentment in order to seek magic can also be a terribly messy sport.
And quite often trying to facilitate both will make you crazy. Because it usually means lying to somebody.
Unless of course you do whatever is necessary to conjure up some magic in your contented relationship. And yes of course that is what we all SHOULD do.
Problem is we don’t. We allow lethargy and boredom and taken-for-grantedness to rule the day. We surrender to magic-less contentment and then, when surrender no longer sates us, we look for magic elsewhere. Why the heck do you think 50% of marriages end in divorce?
But how do you circumvent that seemingly inevitable outcome? And I say inevitable even knowing that there ARE couple who are magically content well into their old age. I just don’t know that many of them. So how do you actually facilitate magic and contentment AT THE SAME TIME? Like, with the same person.
Therein lies the dilemma. Because the search for magic and perhaps the subsequent finding of it almost automatically diminishes the possibility of contentment. Doesn’t magic boost all those endorphins or hormones or whatever those things are that elevate our senses and literally turn us on? I mean physiologically the sensation of magic literally destroys the possibility of contentment. But damn we love that feeling. We become addicted to the magic and the pursuit thereof denying ourselves any possibility of contentment.
So now what?
The best scenario I can come up with is you learn – and this is huge – you TEACH yourself to find the magic in the contented moments. You change your definition of magic.
I just looked it up. Magic – the art of producing illusions as entertainment.
Well golly gee and holy fuck.
Illusions as entertainment.
I swear on everything that is holy that I did not know that definition when I started writing this blog.
That is what magic is. Romantic magic is Disney, rom-coms, Harlequin and Hallmark.
Even Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (yes, I took English Lit at University).
It is make believe.
It MAKES us believe that IT is possible and so we settle for nothing less. When in fact we should be settling for so much more.
Because (in my experience) contentment – TRUE contentment – brings with it a different kind of magic. The kind that comes from trust. And solidarity. And most importantly TRUTH. It comes from believing and then KNOWING that you ‘re loved. Even when you’re horrible. Bitchy. Fat. Stupid. Whatever. Those are fleeting moments.
But THOSE fleeting moments – WHICH ARE THE VERY CORNERSTONE OF MAGIC – become EXACTLY WHAT THEY should be. Fleeting.
They dissipate, dissolve into another moment (or day) at which time with full presence and not an ounce of taking-for-grantedness you SEE your beloved as who they truly are. Your partner in life. Your co-adventurer. The yin to your yang. The Abbott to your Costello (that may just be me). The Sonny to your Cher (also just me).
Not Houdini. And sure as fuck not Disney.
And suddenly you are aware of the magic IN the contented moments. You do not feel slighted or empty or melancholy. You feel grateful and hopeful and …
And guess what? You don’t have to choose.
Because as it turns out, you actually DO have both.