Vickie Van Dyke on Hey There Lonely Girl … Scott F. on Hey There Lonely Girl … Vickie Van Dyke on Just When You Think You Have A… Scott F. on Just When You Think You Have A… Vickie Van Dyke on How Much Work Are You Willing…
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I am fully amazed at the number of people I know who, approaching retirement age, are actually conflicted about the next step. People with full pensions and few money worries. People who have enjoyed lucrative and satisfactory careers. People who have experienced great success and even acclaim.
People who are apparently SO defined by their work they simply cannot fathom a life without it.
Fully amazed, I am.
I guess because that is SO not me. I love my work and have for 30 years. As a matter of fact I love it so much I told the owners of my radio station I’ll never leave and they’ll have to hook a cane around my neck and drag me out of there kicking and screaming if they want me gone.
But I’ll only kick and scream for a day. Then I will happily embrace the next phase of my life, whatever it may be. I’ve only worked “for the man” (and by that I mean a job where pension is deducted) for about a decade of my life so believe me, my personal pension is diddly squat with literally no hope of getting “topped up”. So yeah, I’m on the “Freedom 85” plan. I may well be the oldest DJ on the planet (unless they use that cane).
But if not, well, I’m okay with that too. Because I do know that I don’t need much. I’m a gypsy at heart and could live in the same cut-off jeans and flip-flops for the rest of of my life. Might be a tad cold in Canadian winter but I’ll cross that bridge when it arrives. The other thing I know is that every day is a new adventure. And my adventure is in no way defined by my work. It may be augmented by my work and supported by my work but I am not my work. I am an adventurer.
So what about these folks who are terrified of letting go? Who hang on past 65 (or whatever year is their magic pension number) simply because they don’t know what they will DO once what they’ve done for a very long time comes to a conclusion.
Hmmm. See what I mean about first world problems?
I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure these problems didn’t exist a century ago. They don’t exist in third world countries and they don’t exist with your average blue-collar worker who cannot wait to retire.
They exist in first world success stories. Which is in itself the biggest paradox, isn’t it? Those who MUST work can’t wait to retire. Those who love work … dread it.
So I must ask – what is it exactly that you dread?
Do you dread the lack of actual employment? That first morning when you have nowhere to go, no dragons to slay and no victories to celebrate?
If so, take your talents and volunteer them for free some place where they can be utilized and appreciated. My friend T who hasn’t yet retired is already doing that. She flies to third world countries yearly to help a random business (could be just about anything) become more productive and profitable. She shares her wisdom and experience and gets an adventure in the process. Win-win.
My sister the high school principal retired quite young (early 50s) so she put herself on the supply list and got back into the classroom. She did this not to rob some young teacher from possible employment but because she taught German and her ilk were few and far between. She did it because they asked and she LOVED it. Because for years she had been an administrator, diplomat, peacekeeper and bureaucrat. Suddenly she was back where she started – in the classroom. With kids. Eventually she wound that new (old) career down and retired completely. And now (she’s still not 65) she is content with her new life. Her new freedom. Her new identity. What she did, she did. And what she is now doing, she is doing. Whole-heartedly.
But my other pal D is not quite so excited about this next phase. She loves her work, she loves the power that comes with her work, she loves the accolades that come with her work and she actually just plain old loves what she does.
What D doesn’t love so much is her life. She loves aspects of her life (the benefits of making a very good living for a long time) but she doesn’t love her marriage and she doesn’t love the prospect of living in that un-loving situation full-time. She doesn’t love the prospect of “no more winning”. D loves winning! But if she is not winning in work and not winning at home then what the heck is D going to do to win? To achieve that great big high that comes with winning? With succeeding? With achieving?
I might suggest that D either A) work on her marriage or B) get out of her marriage or C) design a new life based not on winning but based on living and experiencing and enjoying and giving back.
But hey, what the heck do I know?
What I do know is that anyone who moans about impending retirement or worries about impending retirement or even bellyaches one teensy little bit about impending retirement … anyone with a full pension and a bank account full of dough and a healthy body and an intact imagination … anyone who still thinks THIS problem is important is lounging in a misguided belief that HER worth in society is irreplaceable. Lounging in the misguided belief that she will be diminished when she is no longer “viable”. Lounging in the misconception that without her title she is LESS. Lounging in first world purgatory.
Hey, people write blogs about this shit. Even full books. There is “industry” in dealing with retirement.
Because if you are one of those extremely fortunate beings who does not have to toil until you’re 85 or dead, then please embrace your next adventure.
You are whatever YOU create in this next phase. YOU are pliable and viable and open to new experience. YOU are allowed to enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring. YOU SHOULD enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring.
IF you get to “retirement age” and you’re still alive and healthy and you actually have a future (unlike your peers who died too soon or the poor souls who didn’t experience your love of career) and you’re not starving and the only dilemma facing you is “how am I gonna do this” … well, may I respectfully suggest you acknowledge that your problem is one of the first-word variety. Nobody except your equally self-absorbed cronies gives a shit and YOU should probably find something more worthwhile (and enlightened) to concern yourself with.
Be grateful you got what you got. Did what you did. Achieved what you achieved.
Let the next generation have their go and GO live (and love) your first world retirement.
Trust me, you’ll be dead soon enough and all your “concerns” will be dust in the wind. Wake up! And be grateful you get to retire.
Closure: The bringing to an end. Conclusion.
So that’s what it is. It is a finale. An acceptance that something is over. A termination.
But if we are speaking about relationships then I think closure is something else. Something different. Something more ethereal.
When my ex-husband and I split up and he concocted our separation agreement in about three minutes and then told our lawyers “She needs money and I need closure.”
You see the lawyers thought everything was flying just a little too quickly (for their benefit or my preservation, I am not sure). But I was willing to sign whatever he concocted because YES I did need money. But I also felt horrendously guilty. I had fallen in love with another man and that sure as heck made me the bad guy. I figured I could be a little less bad if I didn’t fight. So I agreed to whatever terms he set out even though my lawyer counseled me (and made me sign something affirming that I was agreeing to something against her counsel) that what I was accepting went against the letter of the law.
But ya see my hubby was a spurned man. And he needed closure. He needed me to get gone. He needed to free up his emotional “space” to make room for his new love who happened to be the ex-wife of my new lover. It’s a long story and if you need to know you’ll just have to go back and read all my blogs.
But here’s the thing: he said he wanted closure.
But how could there ever be closure? We have a child. We are co-parents. We have mutual friends and my family still likes him and believe it or not some of his family still like me. So where exactly is the closure? It wasn’t like I was jetting off to Santorini to live out my life while he enjoyed harsh Canadian winters in the company of our child.
We were absolutely destined to cross paths. Make nice. Even have hugs and tears.
Which got me thinking about this seemingly universal desire for closure. Why is everyone so desperate for THE END? I mean, in my books THE END is when you die. At least THE END of this mortal existence. I’d like to believe there is another great adventure beyond death’s door but in THIS life I do not crave THE END. I crave THE CONTINUATION. Maybe THE EVOLUTION? Maybe the new paragraph, the new reality and the new opportunity. I do not crave the CONCLUSION.
Not even a little.
That guy who I fell in love with, that guy for whom I left my hubby … well, he left me. Four times. I have not seen him in over ten years. He broke my heart bigger and better than anyone before or since. And I still do not want closure. I’d like to see his face. Look into his eyes. Remember the love and forgive the pain. That’s what I would like. Sure there were moments on this journey when I thought “Okay, damnit, I am done with, you scoundrel! I have my closure!”
But it wasn’t real or true. It was false bravado and maybe a bit of wishful thinking. The reality is – at least for me – there is no closure with love. When you love truly and deeply and consciously the love is eternal. Even when your heart is shattered.
So how can there be closure if love is eternal?
I know there are really nasty divorces and abusive spouses and horror stories and dramatic finales. And I know that when these situations occur closure is the desired outcome. Get your business complete and get out! Don’t give that bastard another thought!
And I guess that would be great if it was possible. If you could actually choose the thoughts (and memories and feelings) that created that love and then stuff them into a bottle and toss it into the ocean.
But you can’t. Because memories and feelings and thoughts are like invasive souvenirs. They show up like a velvet Elvis – in the most inopportune and usually questionable situations. But there they are, staring you down. So you fight and you fight and you scream “Get the fuck outta here, I need closure!” … and still they lurk. Maybe you push them back for a spell but they still lurk. And then when you least expect it – they pounce. And that hard-won closure disintegrates into a pile of dust.
My ex-husband and I are cordial and even loving (when it comes to our son and family members). I’m not sure he EVER got that closure which he so desperately sought. I doubt it. Because you can’t close the door on your only child’s mother. I’m in your picture whether you like it or. And you are in mine.
For all time.
Get used to me, baby. You may get your closure when I die.
You also may not. Those “good”memories may haunt you until your dying day.
That other lover of mine, the one who shattered my heart four times … he seems to have moved on and he seems to be gosh-darned happy. Yet when his father died I sent him a text offering condolences. And he was grateful for that text.
When my mother died a few months later he sent … nothing.
Does that mean he got closure and I did not?
It may also mean his is a self-absorbed dick.
What I do know is this: FOR ME closure will never be an end-game. It will never be something I strive for and it will never be a win.
The win is THE JOURNEY.
Yes, I know you’ve heard this a thousand times before but it is the truth. The win is the experience, good or bad. The adventure, successful or not. The relationship, for a lifetime or a year.
THAT is the win.
Closure will never be the win. Closure means shutting down something that was perhaps meaningful and exquisite and shutting it down forever.
I won’t go there.
I do not want closure.
I’ll take memories and I’ll take hope. I will also take acceptance and gratitude. I will take the wisdom I have gleaned and the bruises I have earned.
But I will not seek closure.
My door will always be open …
I still remember the day I received my first email. It was from a girlfriend’s boyfriend in the States. I had recently taken possession of a lumbering old beast and logging on to that phone line, hearing that crazy noise and then seeing that something was coming in was darn near magical. Like a little Christmas every day. Since B was one of the few people I knew who was hip to e-mailing, he and I struck up an almost daily correspondence. We talked about anything and everything. One time he came home from a party pretty tipsy and shot off a missive without editing, typos, mistakes, bad punctuation and all. I could almost hear him slurring as I read the words. It was hilarious.
B and I were e-buddies in a time when such a thing was new and fresh. ANY email was special. He was my friend’s beau and I was married so that is all we were but it was a fun, chummy relationship. Until his relationship with my friend ended and she made it quite clear that my allegiance should be clear.
I missed him, sure, but life went on and new e-relationships were born, some which led to mayhem and misery.
My next e-relationship fostered marital infidelity. Which fostered mayhem. And misery. Because communication is a huge aphrodisiac. The BIGGEST aphrodisiac, quite frankly. At least for me, the word girl. Communication turns me on. And, as it turns out, gets me into trouble.
Which begs the question: Can E-Relationships ON THEIR OWN, with no promise of future connection or romance, be real and meaningful? Of course I am now talking about opposite-sex relationships. Relationships that could potentially lead to desire. Relationships that could turn from chummy and innocent to flirty and dangerous. Can such a thing exist?
In my country-band days I was madly in love with my guitar player. He was married but hey, my morals were obviously a bit askew. We ended up together for almost three years and then we were not. He ultimately reunited with his wife and we got on with our separate lives.
Until one night he showed up in the restaurant where I was preforming and emailed me the following day, stating in no uncertain terms that he would like to run away with me. He and his wife were on the rocks (due to her infidelity) and I was just a shiny beacon of hope in his otherwise dismal world.
Didn’t happen. The running away thing. I was living with the love of my life and entirely uninterested. Even when the LOML dumped me and guitar-player guy and I kept emailing it did not happen. We developed a beautiful camaraderie. We were able to share deep and important thoughts almost daily. We had such a profound history it translated to a really special friendship. We became buddies!!
(He even told me about an out-of-the-blue tryst that surprised even him and I was like “Go man go!”)
Our e-relationship was decidedly friendly. Until he and his wife reunited and he told me he had to ditch me. No way was she ever going to understand that we were buddies. Only buddies.
And ditched I remain.
I’m okay with that, because I was merely a stepping stone to the next chapter of his life. Our e-correspondence was lovely and honest and, when it could no longer be that, it was over.
Wasn’t so simple for my friend P. She developed an e-relationship with an old beau who lived on the other side of the planet. They were both unhappily married. Yet no matter how hard they tried to convince themselves that their e-relationship was just platonic pals sharing woes and laughs, the underlying spark was there. Sparking away until it turned into raging flames.
Ultimately they met. And there was nothing platonic about their meeting. After which her marriage broke down, his remained intact and they both got on with their lives. But for her ir was painful as hell.
THIS was most definitely an ” opposite-sex relationship. One that led to desire. One that became decidedly flirty and dangerous.”
When you’ve lived as long as I have you come to the realization that there are no hard and fast rules and nothing is cast in stone. What was once innocent can, in a heartbeat, turn to trouble. And what was once trouble (like my guitar-dude) can just as easily turn to innocent and genuine friendship.
I have experienced both. E-relationships that were meaningful and e-relationships that were delicious … and destructive.
The thing is we never know which way it’s going to go. What we think is innocent fun can ON A DIME become dangerous. Yet that “innocent fun” is so addictive it’s damn difficult to acknowledge that it could get crazy.
I don’t have the answer. I’m hoping that maybe you do.
So I ask again … Can E-Relationships Be Real and Meaningful?
I look forward to your thoughts.
I am a great fan of great writing. I am also a great fan of great lyrics. I am often these days astounded by the lame-ass lyrical content of pop hits. Maybe it really is just all about the bass? Maybe no one actually listens to the words? Or cares? Maybe it’s just me?
Words are my jam.
Which is why I am a big fan of John Mayer. He also jams on words. Not always mind you (Love On The Weekend?) but enough to convince me that he thinks. He crafts. He cares about his message.
And on this note allow me to insert an little aside here: one of the best lyricists I know is Thomas Wade. He is also one of the best inspirational writers on the planet. Check out his page on Facebook “Thomas Wade Healing Page”. Read his words. Absorb them. They just might transform your life. Or at the very least help get you through the day.
Okay … back to Johnny. On his latest album he’s got a song called “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me.” The lyrics are brilliant and the message profound. Because if I ask the question “What is the definition or true love?” I know I’ll get a million answers. But the message in this ballad is simple: no matter what the outcome, no matter whether our love lives or dies, no matter whether you broke my heart or I yours or we just drifted apart … you WILL live forever in me.
“Parts of me were made by you.”
We are all impacted by the people we love. We are altered. Changed. We grow. We learn. Parts of them become parts of us. And no matter how the love affair ends those parts are still important. They still exist. They make us who we are today, even if if the person who facilitated them is long gone.
“Life is full of sweet mistakes and love’s an honest one to make.”
Even if it ends up being a mistake, LOVE is worth it. Love is worth the pain and the risk and the heartache and the possibility of betrayal and anguish. It is ALWAYS worth it. So never, ever be afraid of making a mistake in the name of love. Because parts of you will change and you will change parts of those you love. And that is life’s journey. The journey WILL continue until its end. Love will not end the journey, or kill the journey or destroy you and the journey. Even when it is yanked from your soul like a brutal amputation it will not kill you. Not if you allow it to teach you instead.
“And when the pastor asks the pews for reasons he can’t marry you, I’ll keep my word and my seat.”
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes, how I love this line.
Because this line speaks to absolute true, selfless, altruistic love in its purest form. You’re sitting in a church watching your beloved take vows with someone else and you accept it. You’re okay with it. You can even honour it.
Because they are going to live forever in you. Even married to someone else their love and what they taught you will live forever in you. The experience you shared together will live forever in you. The love you gave and received will live forever in you.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Nothing lives forever. NOTHING. Not people, not plants, not doggies or even stars.
But maybe love does?
Maybe earthy relationship love, the kind we vow to and promise for and wax lyrical about does not. Not always, anyway.
But maybe if we stop confusing love with ownership and start accepting love as a gift much like a sunny day – not guaranteed to last but glorious when it shines on us – we can take love’s lesson with us. And we can continue to love even when we are hurt, crushed, abandoned and devastated. We can continue to BELIEVE in love.
It does live forever in us. Every ounce of love we have given and received lives forever in us. Even when the parameter and physical manifestation of that love changes, the love itself continues to shape us. Even define us.
It’s a beautiful thing. When we choose it to be.
Now go listen to John. And then read Tom. They will teach you things you never knew you needed to learn.
And to all the men I’ve loved before (hey, should that be a song lyric?) – YES. You’re going to live forever in me.
I am a proud owner of a skinny mirror. It took me a while to find the perfect one but find it I did. It wasn’t expensive. It was pretty. And it was skinny. It’s probably my favourite piece of furniture.
Okay that is perhaps not true. My bed is my fave. My baby grand is a close second. But damn, that skinny mirror is way up there. I love my skinny mirror.
I love it so much I actually have two. The first I discovered in my mother’s flat. It was gilded (not really my thing) but holy moly was it skinny. Every time I visited and was sure to steal a quick glance and I was always delighted. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like a skinny mirror?
Now if you’re a dude you’re probably shaking your head in exasperation, thinking “what the heck is a skinny mirror? Isn’t all reflective glass by its very nature thin? What the heck is this broad talking about?”
Well, if you’re a chick you already know what I’m talking about. This is a chick thing.
In my new home my one skinny mirror stands at the end of the upstairs hallway. I was recently giving a girlfriend a tour and when she saw herself she immediately exclaimed “Oh my goodness – a skinny mirror! Look at my legs!”
Now this girl is slimmer than slim and the last thing she actually needs is a skinny mirror. But there it was! And she recognized it right away.
My other skinny mirror – the one I inherited from my mother, gilded and all – is in my front hallway. There is method to my madness. The upstairs mirror is just outside my bedroom. When I get dressed I check myself out (come on, we all do it).
Then when I leave the house, there’s another opportunity to review if I so choose.
I will tell you, when I leave my home I typically feel pretty darn fine.
And that, dear fellows, is the point of a skinny mirror.
A skinny mirror makes you look thinner than you actually are. At least that’s what THEY say. But really what the hell do THEY know? I choose to believe that my skinny mirrors are telling the truth. All those other fucking mirrors are FAT mirrors. They are the big fat liars. THEY are the ones who set out to hurt our feelings and undermine our confidence. They are evil and horrid and seven years bad luck be damned deserve to be smashed.
Skinny mirrors are our friends.
I have recently made acquaintance with a shop owner who sells lovely clothing. I visit her several times a year and invariably make a few purchases. But here’s the problem. In her shop there exists a fat mirror. I’m not talking a “regular” mirror (IF such a thing exists and who really knows?). I am talking FAT. Now to me this seems counterproductive to her business. Who is going to pop in, try on a dress, look into that deceiving speculum and say “Sure I’ll take it. It makes me look fat!”
No one. That’s who.
She and I have chatted about this. I suggested a skinny mirror might work more in her favour. She replied that she simply could not mislead her beloved patrons. I retorted (or was that snorted?) that she was already misleading us because that fat mirror was a liar, plain and simple. Get rid of it!
(for the record, her other mirrors were acceptable)
So here’s the point (of course I have one) – mirrors, much like people, come in ALL shapes and sizes. It’s like a fricking fun-house. Every time you look at your own reflection it’s a crap-shoot what will look back at you. If I knew anything about physics I’m sure I could weigh in here on WHY this is the case but I don’t and the bottom line is IT DOESN’T”T MATTER! There are a million mirrors and a million reflections. HOW you allow those reflections to define you is what matters.
Let me repeat – HOW you allow those reflections to define you is what matters.
Whether those reflections are in mirrors, ponds, a store window or someone else’s eyes, how YOU allow those reflections to define you is the ONLY thing that matters. The only thing that will carry you through the day. The only thing that will feed or diminish your self-confidence.
And THAT is why I have not one but TWO skinny mirrors. They are my friends. They make me happy. They help me leave the house smiling. They reflect not only my body but my heart and my soul. They bring me joy.
I truly have no idea which mirror is telling the truth. How do we actually know the skinny mirror is not real and the regular mirror is not fake and the fat mirror is just the devil’s work?
I don’t know. Again, I don’t care.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Choose a career that brings you fulfillment. Live in a place that delivers joy. Listen to music and read books that fill your soul. Eat and drink well and with gratitude.
And buy a skinny mirror. Or two.
You deserve it.
I have a very dear friend who I know loves me. I know this as surely as I know birds fly and fish swim. But for many years this friend had an immensely difficult time saying the words. Or even writing them. She wasn’t in any way afraid to love me. She was just weirdly uncomfortable with communicating that love in words.
I have another friend who refuses to say I love you to anyone but her partner. End of story. For her these are romantic words saved for her one and only. Fair enough.
I have yet another friend who has no trouble at all yelling I love you across a parking lot, saying it to me privately or even posting it on social media. This dear friend is a love warrior, heart on her sleeve, no hesitation whatsoever kind of gal.
And there are those sweet pals who simply say “love you.” These two words are somehow less ‘romantic’ than I love you. Less formal. Less committed. And I get that. I get that we protect our hearts and express our feelings at the same time, simply by removing the word “I”. It’s almost like hey, the planet loves you and I am a citizen. It’s not like I love you in a singular and special way. I get it.
But there’s this new favourite which I quite frankly do not get at all.
Did you know that the word luv is actually accepted in Scrabble? I play a lot of Scrabble and yes it is. Did you also know that my spellcheck does not like luv. Nope. It’s not there in my dictionary. if I want luv I have to add it.
Interestingly, dictionary.com defines luv simply as “love”. Apparently luv = love.
So why then do so many people replace love with luv? If luv = love why not just say love?
And while we’re at it if ya = you why not just say you? Who the hell is ya? I don’t much like being called ya. It’s almost as bad as yous. Which as I’m sure you know is often utilized to express more than one you. As in ‘yous guys’. I mean, come on, we all know the proper word is ‘y’all.’
I recently received an email signed ‘luv ya’ and that’s what got me to pondering this conundrum. Why? Why did the writer of that email sign off in such an oddly colloquial manner? This friend is articulate and intelligent. Well spoken and well written. So why?
Best I can guess is ‘luv ya’ is the new ‘love you’ taken to a lower level. And by lower level I mean there is quite literally less love involved with ‘luv ya’ than ‘love you’ which is of course far less than ‘I love you.’
I wonder if ‘I luv ya’ is on the horizon?
But honestly, if you love why not just love? And if you like why not just like? What is this new middle ground?
Many years ago I online dated a guy who always signed his emails ‘loving you.’ Eventually I inquired to his meaning and he responded “I am loving you. I’m just not in love with you.”
Terrific. I mean I wasn’t in love with him either but geez, way to burst my Disney bubble thank you very much.
But I get it. He had feelings for me. He felt affection for me. We were great friends and there was definitely a sexy spark. But it wasn’t love. It was luv.
I am most definitely a word girl so excuse me if I pick this stuff apart more than most. There are many new expressions that have become established forms of communication. LOL comes to mind. I can only surmise that when we use LOL it’s because we’re not quite sure we’re as funny as we think. The reader may not get that we’re attempting amusement and so we clarify it for them.
I guess it’s the same with ‘luv ya’. We’re not committing to any big emotion. We’re just saying you’re kind of special.
And ya know what?
I know, I know. I did it on purpose.
I’m okay with that. At first it kind of riled me a bit. As in if you love then please for Pete’s sake just love. There can never be too much love in this world. Platonic, romantic, familial, friendly … whatever. Just love.
But I’ve thought it over and I am now fine with luv. I’m fine with its intent and its distinctiveness. Contrary to the dictionary luv is not love. Luv is luv.
Not sure I’ll ever be fine with ‘ya’ but hey, one word at a time okay?
Luv you, dear readers. Thank y’all always for checking in.
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.