It Is Only The Beginning
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom
The End is Not The End
(it is only the beginning)
Last night, my estranged wife and I sat down in the breakfast nook and looked over the photo from her recent high school reunion.
She demurely asked me if she could “Ask me a question”
I hesitated for a moment, if only because there is this thick entanglement of synapses in my brain that when triggered tell me to pause, tell me to figure out how I should react, tell me that I must assess the moment first and then respond, because something seemed amiss here.
Thus, “I knew what was coming,” because I understood by the context, by the moment, and by her look that she wanted to ask me a “guy” question.
Despite this learned, and truly token, reason for pause, I was actually open to answering.
Besides, before we were dating, before we fell in love and decided to try this matrimony thing, before the kids, the house and the corporate job—we were actually very good friends. And things are fairly amicable now, living apart is apparently the elixir to everything.
Nonetheless and allthemore, she eventually asked and I honestly answered. I was actually happy for her. She is a wonderful woman and she deserves a lot of attention—at least a lot more than I was able to give her when we were together the last couple of tumultuous years.
(12 hours later)
Anyway, sleepy-eyed and a little worried about being late to work (again) this morning, I consoled myself on the bus stuck in traffic by reminiscing on this warm moment.
As a result, it occurred to me, I had an epiphany, that there are really very few bad experiences in life, that for the most part life is pretty kosher, it is vibrant, teeming with possibility, and it is wonderful—if you want it to be.
The two bad experiences that immediately came to mind though were—one, actually being physically sick (Enzo, our oldest, was reeling from a cold this morning, crying because he didn’t want to go to school)—we all know how excruciatingly grueling truly ailing can be— when there never seems to be an end to it all and you vow to clean up your act if only you ‘re allowed to survive; and two, is the experience of being in a sick relationship—not sick as in perverted, but sick as in quite normal, sick as in the natural disintegration of it all, when you can’t just have fun anymore and actually have to deal (with issues, decisions, obligations, and dreams that pull you apart and off into opposite directions).
Of the two, I’d take reeling over the bowl for a night or two, because the latter lasts a lot longer, and is much more painful in so many respects—your heart, soul and mind all ache at the same time and, combined, they make your body sick.
Since the separation, we don’t argue much anymore. We play tennis on occasion. We talk, we calmly make decisions—and like last night, we even talk about our feelings.
Two nights ago I wrote to her:
Subject: just want you to know
i'm wearing one of my favorite, most comfortable, shirts right now: the orange LBI t-shirt (that you gave me). thanks.
i still love you (you know). i may just not want to live with you, or anyone else, for that matter, but i still love you, nonetheless and allthemore.
say hi the kids for me, please tell them i love them (too).
So why do I share this with you? It does seem rather personal after all.
Well, it is rather personal, and thus it is rather real.
I think it is important to be real, to not be afraid of being human, to encourage others to do and be the same. I encounter too many people who are afraid of expressing themselves for fear of being judged, for fear of not being like everyone else, for fear of having failed one ideal or another.
Moreover, I think it is important to convey that there are alternatives to nasty break-ups. I know of too many that have gone this course; I’ve witnessed the rage, the grating anger, the virulent frustration. I find it unfortunate and unnecessary.
Perhaps, it is because I believe that the end of a relationship is not as bad as it seems nor as tragic as our society purports it to be.
It is primarily because we deem it to be that it becomes heavier than it really is. The end of anything is always the beginning of something else. Sometimes, it is the unknown, sometimes it means we have grown beyond the realm of another or that our vines have spread apart.
Initially, the intertwining is divine, but then we find ourselves thirsting, pining for space, and we start to miss the taste of freedom.
Ultimately, we begin to face the reality that we are squeezing life out of one another.
Thus, although given the druthers, we usually choose to continue suffocating, because we are taught suffering is part of the deal. We are sold a set of beliefs that justify the grief of monogamy and (un)dying commitment by deeming them as natural as breathing, and that intimacy and love and desire are as everlasting as life itself.
But just as life meets death, the makeshift bliss of contrived human relations dies too.
Once we have begun the institutionalized path of the relationship it is almost impossible for it not to become the same old thing, the same hard road to nowhere where upon all the signs read "dead end."
Most of us see this sign and resign ourselves, as if we had signed a contract with a no-compete clause, the breech thereof that would end absolutely everything—till death do us part.
Thus, we sigh, we cry, anger takes over, we become utterly despondent and sulk, never realizing that the answer lies in our innate inclination to run away, to turn in another direction, if only to move on, elsewhere alone.
You see, there are essentially two realities we live in. There is a personal reality that all of us are capable of manifesting, but which most of us do not realize. And then, there is the social reality that the vast majority blindly follow by heeding to contemporary values, constructs of thinking, and the institutions that support them.
Thus, to live a happy life it is incumbent upon the individual to realize what is the absolute truth within one self. Personally, I know that the great things in life, whether they be interactions with others or the awe of the morning, are all fleeting. Perfection is possible, but it is ephemeral.
Therefore, It is wholly natural to say goodbye, for everything must come to an end. And when we realize and accept this inescapable principle of being, we allow ourselves to turn our strife from a bumpy road to hell into the joyride of our lives.
It is true that nothing lasts forever, including "love," and yet as foolish humans we still strangely perceive, conceive and cohort as if we are capable of manifesting otherwise. And despite the wise lessons of time, we find ourselves falling in love over and over again anyway.
The late and great mythologist Joseph Campbell stated that he believed the romantic form of love as we know it today in Western civilization began with the troubadours of the Middle Ages. Therefore, everlasting or "true" romance is not something that has existed throughout the history of mankind. And not only has it not always been universal, it is also not necessarily an innate need that can only be fulfilled by "the one."
In fact, the notion of the "soul mate" has been alien to much of the world for most of the time we have existed as intelligent sapient beings. It is oddly as elusive as all those things which are invisible and divine, yet somehow we find ourselves inclined to hopelessly believing that such ideals can be manifested in a single person anyway.
The hard truth is that romance is a commercial enterprise that we actively partake in and which artificially realizes this swell of sentiment within us, one that does not entirely stem naturally from within. Or if it does, it is expressed with trite expressions of amorous emotions. Valentine's Day is a perfect example of this, for it honors something that should be celebrated creatively everyday, and one which buying a card or candy or a bouquet is only okay if you are too lazy to make an effort.
Overall, we accept so many things that we are told wholesale to believe in, simply because it is easiest to sail through life that way. If we had to try and figure out which way to go with every step, we would immediately get weary and wary of the journey.
Surely love is a many splendored thing, but it is not always meant to be everlasting. And once one has learned to accept this, she or he will be all the more happier, and likely happier than most.
So, the end is not the end. In fact, I’d like to think that in terms of my marriage, that perhaps we are at a new beginning somehow. We are becoming friends again, and that is a good thing.
My feelings on the matter are akin to how I feel about death. I want people to party at my funeral, not because I am dead, but because I have lived, and my life has been an example of how to live the good life, for life should be a celebration, a comedy—not a tragedy.
JC: Goethe says "all things are metaphors" —everything that is transitory is but a metaphorical reference. That's what we all are.
BM: But how does one worship a metaphor, love a metaphor, die for a metaphor?
JC: Well, that's what people are doing all over the place! Dying for metaphors. And when you really realize the sound aum the sound of the mystery of the word everywhere—then you don't have to go out and die for anything because its right there all around , and just sit still and see it, and experience and know it.
~ The Power of the Myth, Love and the Goddess, Bill Moyers Interviews Joseph Campbell