Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Thing We Want

Dream of West Virginia or of the British Isles, 'cause when you are dreaming you see for miles and miles. When you are much older, remember when we sat at midnight on the windowsill and had this little chat . . . and dream, come on and dream.

-Tom Waits

This morning I had coffee with an old friend of mine after yoga, as I do on most Sunday mornings. I have known this woman for 30 years, not a lot of secrets or polite and blind agreement with everything the other one says, we both calls 'em likes we sees 'em. Talk turns to marriage, dating, divorce, children . . . usual Sunday morning coffee talk and she says "if he's wearing bad jeans, right off the bat that's a deal breaker". I laugh and she assures me, she is not kidding. We discuss if helping a partner learn how to dress better is a fixable problem or if you should just dig someone as is. Cut to story number two, several months ago a friend of mine began dating a man that has turned out to be pretty awesome . . . but he doesn't drink coffee. When she told me this I said "deal breaker". She laughed and I assured her I was not kidding. Coffee is morning bonding time, craving coffee together, getting your fix together, having coffee outside and sharing the paper. She says "what about tea?", but no, you don't crave tea the way you crave coffee, the tea drinker will never truly be on board; they will never understand.

Let's go to story number three. On the way home from Common Grounds this morning I was listening to Radio Lab on NPR . . . because I am a nerd (deal breaker?). There was a story about a woman whose mother was artificially inseminated, she is borne of a donor father. She feels lost, there is a piece of her that she knows nothing about, a bit of her is untethered. She loves her family but markedly feels the differences . . . she is 5'2", everyone else in her family is 5' 10" to 6' 5". She is yearning to know her father, she needs to know her father. (insert your Darth Vader jokes here) And so her search begins. All she knows is where he went to college, what years he was there, and his major. She scours yearbooks from those years thinking "his face will leap off the page, I will know that's him". But it didn't. She started a letter writing campaign to men who fell in her search parameter, about 1/3 of them responded. Many of them even had their DNA tested . . . but none of them were her father. Eventually she connected with a girl on a website seeking donor parents, this girl was born in the same area of the country around the same time. They meet each other, they have so much in common they instantly bond. They are convinced they are sisters and for a brief and shining moment in time she has found something . . . but it turns out they aren't sisters. All her efforts become vapors.

We can want something so badly we convince ourselves it's true, convince ourselves it's right, convince ourselves it's good for us, and that it was meant to be . . . and when that turns out to be wrong it can be a cold slap in the face. How could life deny me a parent? a child? a partner? a family? How could life deny me love and happiness? It seems implausible, let alone impossible. Have I been wearing the wrong jeans this whole time?

We are told to go after what we want, create our own reality, make a list of what you want, manifest those things, don't settle, be diligent in getting what you want.

We are likewise told to live in the now, be in the moment, let life unfold for you as it should, don't be so rigid, chill out, don't worry about "deal breakers".

I suppose like any code, cult, or dogmatic dictate we can make these lessons apply liberally when want, and more scant at other times. Work hard or let things come to you, try to create a relationship with someone that isn't really right or let the people and patterns of life fall where they may. We all have to do what is right for us.

I don't know what will happen with bad jeans wearing guy . . . that's not true, I do know, and it's got nothing to do with his jeans. I don't know what will happen with non-coffee drinking guy . . . that's not true either, I'm pretty sure I do know, and it's got nothing to do with coffee. When someone, something, someplace is right I don't think you need to convince yourself of it. There may be days it's a bit more challenging and you have to remind yourself of why it's right . . . not even someone who wears the right jeans and drinks coffee is a walk in the park every day. But if your phone rings while you're at work, you see that name think "Seriously? I'm at work, I'm busy", then, I dunno, give that some thought, because someone else could call you in the middle of the day at work and you get all tingly and happy. You will create the space for the things that are right, just as those things will create space for you. It doesn't always go the way you want. Just as our friend looking for her father did, we have all convinced ourselves something is right based on how badly we've wanted it, and sometimes it turns out to be utterly wrong.

I'll leave you with another story. Some time ago I was dating someone I cared for very much. I was at his house one afternoon, I was inside the house, I think I may have reading, it doesn't really matter. He was outside working on his lawn, he takes much pride in his yard and garden. I glanced up, and out the front window I saw a tall, gangly, dorky, sweaty man who had just taken off his hat and his sweaty hair was contorted every which way on his head. He looked ridiculous, and I felt a sensation deep in my stomach and I knew, if he were wearing black socks and white velcro sneakers like an old man I would still love him. I felt deeply satisfied, sure, and content . . . but I was wrong. It was not to be, but, and this is a very important but, what I felt was real. It didn't last, it wasn't right, but I still got to feel love for another person and that, my friends, is glorious.

But don't be under the impression black socks and white velcro sneakers are cool . . . they are deal breakers.

Love ya, mean it.

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