Does Nicholas Sparks’ Divorce Say Anything About True Love?

Online news media and social media were abuzz earlier this month when news broke of the end of mega-successful romance author Nicholas Sparks’ 25-year marriage.

An article on The Huffington Post culled tweets expressive of the sentiment that if Nicholas Sparks, the mind behind culturally impactful books (and movies) like The Notebook, Safe Haven, Nights in Rodanthe, The Lucky One, and so on and so forth–who had previously cited his relationship with wife Cathy as inspiration for his work–the-notebook-2004-copywas giving up on a relationship, then True Love must be dead and buried.

Frankly I’m amazed that so many expressed the sentiment of feeling cheated somehow because Sparks’ literary output had had a positive impact on them, perhaps giving them hope that a relationship like those depicted in his books and films was out there somewhere for them, but now, since his own marriage proved not to be an Everything relationship, that somehow undercut the hopeful and optimistic message underlying his overall body of work.

Responding, then, to the question posed in the title of this post, does Nicholas Sparks’ divorce say anything about True Love? In a nutshell, hells yes it does! It says that True Love is alive and well, thank you very much. After 25 years and probably a ton of practical reasons to remain together: kids, finances, and, in this particular case, public perception, Nicholas and Cathy Sparks recognized that their relationship had run its course. It was not a True Love relationship. Not an Everything relationship.

Why? Because one simply cannot have had a True Love relationship. If it voluntarily ends, regardless of the specifics, it fell short of True Love. By acknowledging this, by accepting that a better reality might well be out there for both of them, romantically speaking, Nicholas and Cathy Sparks are totally and unequivocally validating the lure and desire for the most vaunted relational state possible for us as human beings–you got it: True Love.

True Love knows no age. It becomes possible when the circumstances of one’s life–one’s understanding of one’s self, one’s contentedness with the individual completeness of one’s life, and one’s precise definition of who and what one wants in their ideal romantic partner and relationship–set the stage for it.

In Nicholas Sparks’ case, his relationship with and marriage to Cathy was good enough to inspire him to hypothesize great, True Love romance and express it in ways that spoke to millions and millions. Ultimately, it perhaps even spoke to him and Cathy, helping them realize that “good enough” is a far cry from True Love, from Everything. And now they’re both free to pursue that for themselves. With all that they experienced and learned from each other, about what they want and don’t want in their respective Everything relationships, helping refine their visions of their ideal relationships.

From where I stand people shouldn’t take the Sparks divorce as the death knell of True Love. Quite the opposite:  they should take it as convincing validation that True Love is alive and well, thank you very much.

Hopelessly in Love? Huh?

It’s possible that, on occasion, I can get overly semantical about figures of speech, phraseology, etc., but I’ve had something on my mind since falling head over heels into my  relationship Everything: why in the hell did the expression “hopelessly in love” become a fixture in the vernacular of romance?

Well, we’d certainly have to assign some responsibility to rock band Journey, whose song “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly in Love)” hit #2 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart in 1981 and sort of blasted the concept far and wide.

So what’s my beef with the expression? Well, because it’s such a complete negative (is there really any way to construe positivity out of the word “hopeless” ?), quite simply I think it doesn’t apply whatsoever to an Everything relationship–a powerful, heartlifting reality that speaks of unbounded positivity and hope, not hopelessness.

hopefully-word

When you’re experiencing your Everything, one thing you’ll notice is that expectation regarding your partner and relationship is replaced by hope (a topic for another post). And that the purity and open-heartedness of hoping is a consistently amazing, energizing, enlivening feeling. How? Well, because you inhabit a blissful state of ongoing hopefulness that your continued offering of your unique gifts perpetuates your and your partner’s Everything. Again–in a way that’s entirely free not only of expectation, but of need.

And the best way to continue enjoying your Everything is to give fully of yourself and your unique gifts, hoping that they’ll be received and cherished by your soulmate.

So the purest, truest relationship you can aspire to is literally plastered with hopefulness. Constantly. And hopefulness is, of course, the antithesis of hopelessness.

Hopefully someone’ll drop a song called “Hopefully in Love!” that describes an existing, thriving relationship.

Why “Cheating” Isn’t Inherently a Bad Thing

Why do people “cheat” on their partners? Pretty loaded question, that. While this post will tackle the subject from an intellectual perspective, a high percentage of adults (myself included) have direct, and therefore a subjective/emotional experience of this widespread reality.

Stats vary quite widely but the median indicates that over 50% of both men and women–at least those who’ve participated in surveys about infidelity–have been unfaithful at some point in their lives (men 57%, women 54%).

What gives? Since it’s pretty rampant, lots of ink has been devoted to the topic, ranging from the sensationalistic (think Cosmopolitan magazine) to the more psychologically oriented (Psychology Today). Given the near parity across the gender line, it’s clear that both sexes are looking for something outside their relationships in roughly equal numbers.

Let’s take the example of a married man–hell, let’s even give him a couple of young kids–who comes on to female coworker, much to her dismay since she’s a) not interested and b) feels the experience is more proof of her theory that men simply can’t be trusted.

source:

source: myinterestingfacts.com

Why would the guy do this? Well, while it’s likely that he finds his coworker attractive, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of possible specific, detailed “reasons,” with dissatisfaction or unhappiness the root cause of the vast majority of them. Even if you advance the idea that the guy’s self-sabotaging/self-destructive, why is he that way? More likely than not because he’s unhappy or dissatisfied.

A closer look at “unhappy or dissatisfied” is necessary here. Someone who is either of these things could be 1) individually unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their life and generally satisfied with their partner and relationship, 2) individually fulfilled and satisfied but unhappy or dissatisfied with their partner, or 3) individually unfulfilled/dissatisfied and unhappy/dissatisfied with their partner.

In the case of #1, someone who’s unfulfilled in their own life may very well look outside of themselves hoping someone else will provide that sense of happiness and fulfillment. While they may be satisfied with their current relationship, they may simultaneously feel that someone else might “make them happier.” Truth be told this dynamic probably applies to a seriously high percentage of the planet’s adult population whose basic needs for food, shelter, etc. are met and who are in a relationship. So, unwilling (typically subconsciously) to take responsibility for their own contentment/fulfillment/happiness, they look to others to provide it.

In our example, the guy probably feels his wife is no longer “making him happy.” As long as he continues to look outside of himself instead of within for his happiness and fulfillment, he’ll never enjoy an Everything relationship. Without making that inner change, he could successfully woo his coworker, fall for her and vice versa, leave his wife and marry her…and then find himself contemplating repeating the cycle after the novelty and excitement of the new relationship wear off and he again feels unhappy/dissatisfied.

With respect to #2, this is someone who’s individually fulfilled and happy but feels their relationship is lacking and probably doesn’t have the potential to improve. Those in this category remain in their relationships for reasons like financial security, fear of the unknown (better the devil you know than the one you don’t…), fear of being alone, the misguided sense that staying in a relationship you and very possibly your partner are unhappy with is “best for the kid/s,” and the equally misguided sense that ending the relationship would be more hurtful to their partner than ending it and giving everyone a chance at a better reality. Rather than being willing to throw “everything” away by having an affair, those in this category are actually hoping to find their relationship Everything. If they were enjoying Everything already they wouldn’t be making sexual/romantic overtures to others, or accepting them. It’s as simple as that.

#3 is pretty self-explanatory. Someone in this situation is individually unhappy and unfulfilled and dissatisfied with their relationship. The old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” speaks to this person.

While the above suggests relationship satisfaction and longevity are probably the exception more than the rule, given the general amount of dissatisfaction floating around these days, as mentioned above there is one type of person who wouldn’t consider cheating on their partner, and probably only one type of person: someone who’s in an Everything relationship.

Those lucky enough to have found their True Love and Everything fully feel that there is literally nothing more they could possibly want from a romantic partner. Every aspect of an Everything relationship fires on all cylinders with a constant twin-turbo boost. The upshot: no one in an Everything relationship would be unfaithful to their partner. Under any circumstances. Including any scenario where there’s no way their partner would ever find out about their infidelity.

The words used to describe the act of a romantic partner looking outside their relationship for something more are primarily pejorative: Cheating, Betrayal, Infidelity, Unfaithfulness. While the act undoubtedly may cause one’s partner pain and sadness, I’m wholeheartedly of the opinion that staying in the relationship causes much greater pain and sadness, as continuing to exist in a non-Everything relationship denies everyone a chance at a better reality. So it’s wrong to paint the person who chooses to look outside a non-Everything relationship for their chance at Everything in a wholly negative light, since they are acting in the best interests of everyone involved.

Ideally when someone comes to the realization that their current relationship isn’t their Everything and never will be, they decisively and compassionately bring that relationship to a conclusion, after which they’re free and clear to pursue their Everything. When that ideal doesn’t happen, it’s typically because the person looking outside their current situation is impacted by fear, as covered a few paragraphs earlier.

But having the awareness that your current relationship isn’t and won’t ever be your Everything yet remaining in it, that’s a decision that deserves the pejorative “cheating,” as you are actively cheating your partner, yourself, and any children you and your partner have together out of a better reality. While the ideal “better reality” would of course be an Everything relationship, in actuality even being alone for a while, perhaps taking the time to define what your Everything relationship specifically looks like, is better than remaining in a non-Everything relationship–for all concerned.

None of this means that I condone stepping out on one’s partner. What I condone and encourage is not dragging out a non-Everything relationship out of fear. If you are certain you don’t and never will have Everything with your current partner, compassionately, lovingly bring the relationship to a close so that they, any children you have together, and you yourself can connect with a better reality.

 

 

 

 

Relationship and Romance Questionnaire

Welcome to Destination Everything, a blog focusing on one of the most amazing things it’s possible for us to experience: romantic love.  Info about the motivation behind the blog is available on the Mission page.

I’m extremely curious about people’s perspectives on relationships, love, and romance–regardless of relationship status, i.e. in a relationship or not, in love or not, currently enjoying bliss with one’s soulmate or looking forward to meeting that person. As such, I’ve put together a short questionnaire, the responses to which will enhance the content of the blog and factor into a book series that will begin publication in 2018 and a companion reality TV series.

image via getlevelten.com

image via getlevelten.com

If you’re interested in anonymously (only first names and ages will be used) sharing your thoughts, I thank you in advance for taking the questionnaire. Rest assured no contact information will be requested.

And by all means feel free to forward this post to anyone and everyone you think would be interested in participating! Depending on the particular pathway through the questionnaire and the time devoted to the occasional non-multiple choice questions, it should take around ten minutes or so to complete. Many thanks!

➡️ Start the Questionnaire! ⬅️

Everything Awaits

Everything, the sum total of your specific, no-compromise desires in a romantic partner and relationship, is not simply going to land in your lap because you made the effort to define and visualize it.

It’s virtually certain that to experience Everything you will have to live up to your utmost best, pushing through to the edge of your authentic expression of yourself, fully present, free, and fearless. Hoping but never expecting. After all, it’s Everything or Nothing, right? Not Everything for Nothing.

In fact, it’s only when you’re fully willing and able to give everything that you’re ready for your Everything.

What Everything Looks Like*

Up till the time my soulmate, Lien, and I started living together, in addition to our constant daily interactions, every week I emailed her a proposed schedule for our time together for the upcoming week, covering the broad strokes and leaving plenty of room for spontaneity. A fixed component of this email involved a continuously expanding description of our Love.

FireworksHeart

I realized that my weekly addition of a new descriptive for the nature of our Love resulted in a pretty awesome, extensive characterization of the type of Love that’s representative of Everything:

Undying, ever-expanding, deepening, soul-stirring, all-encompassing, once-in-a-million-lifetimes, written-in-the-stars, head-over-heels, heartlifting, permasmile-inducing, sparkle-in-the-eyes, tingly-all-over, awe-inspiring, perpetually electrifying, knows-no-limits, mind-blowing, off-the-charts, beyond-belief, perfection-surpassing, elevating and energizing, mutually mesmerizing, constantly steamilicious, spellbinding, laws-of-physics-defying, limitations-of-language-proving, absolutely positively Ahhhhmazing❤️, Schmoopilicious, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, ever-rejuvenating, way-better-than-Nicholas Sparks-novels, ever-yummilicious, Everything/Forever, if-we-could-bottle-it-we’d-be-trillionaires, über-profound, astoundingly magical, pulse-quickening, must-have-more, utterly breathtaking, beyond-all-measure, ever-blissful True Love!

“Seinfeld” fans may have taken notice of “Schmoopilicious” above. It’s my conjoining of the term “Schmoopie” from the absolutely hysterical “Soup Nazi” episode of that phenomenal series with “delicious.”

This is an example of what’s possible when it comes to imagining the Love of your wildest dreams. My experience of Everything, to which the asterisk in the post’s title refers, exceeds my wildest dreams by leaps and bounds. Individual results are likely to vary, but be equally astounding.

I’m constantly humbled and profoundly grateful to be enjoying Everything. And I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same. Is it really as easy as dreaming it and visualizing it, and being unwilling to settle for anything less? All I can say is that it since it worked for me there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever it shouldn’t work for you.

Know who you are and where you’re going in life (both of these are essential, since the more precisely they’re defined, the better you embody someone else’s Everything), then define your relationship Everything and unfailingly manifest it. That’s the only way to make it happen.

 

 

The Two Basic Reasons Relationships Don’t Result in Everything

So you’ve met a phenomenal person you’re quite romantically excited about and vice-versa, and things are off to a strong start. While there are infinite possible ways to meet and begin a relationship, once underway there are only two possible eventual outcomes: you either end up together forever, enjoying Everything, or you don’t.

While there can be myriad variations of and details associated with “you don’t”–all those whys and why nots–there really are only two underlying scenarios that can lead to that outcome. From the guy’s perspective, they are:

Wrong girl, Right time

Wrong girl, Wrong time

Completing the spectrum of scenarios that either lead to Everything or don’t, from the standpoint of a guy seeking his Everything, the desired outcome is obviously:

Right girl, Right time

Anyone who thinks in a symmetrical/completist manner may wonder if a possible variation is missing on the non-Everything side, namely Right Girl, Wrong Time–the culturally ingrained “the one who got away.”

There isn’t. Quite simply, if you don’t wind up together in a lifelong relationship characterized by True Love, she was not the Right Girl for you, period. No matter that you were together for a few years, were married, have children together, etc. She is not the one who got away. The Right Girl does not “get away.” In other words, having your Right Girl is fully synonymous with having your relationship Everything. Except in the case of an untimely passing, one cannot have had Everything.

Each of the two non-RR scenarios has variations:

  • In WR, you could realize she’s not your Everything, or she could realize you’re not her Everything. Or both of those things could happen. This could occur soon after the start of a new relationship, or after a lot of water’s gone under the bridge. In either case, you are ready for your Everything—she’s just not it.
  • In WW there are a few permutations, from her being the wrong girl at the wrong time from your perspective to the opposite, to a mix of those.

RR is quite straightforward. It is, simply, Everything in both directions, i.e. True Love. Crack out the Cristal and toast to your mutual good fortune!

Zooming in a bit on the concept of Wrong time, there can obviously be a range of considerations that make the timing component unfavorable. You or she could be dealing with a health issue, an emotionally all-consuming family situation, a period of intense financial difficulty (this characterized my situation for several years, during which, in addition to having scant resources for dating, I also questioned the likelihood of an RR situation arising for me). It also sometimes happens that you meet a potential soulmate while either you or she isn’t entirely unattached, relationship wise.

For guys, it should be fairly evident that the most difficult scenario is the version of Wrong Girl, Right Time where the sense that she’s not the right girl comes from her, not from you. Regardless of the specifics of a given WR situation, though, the result can be a dynamic where you, she, or both of you are biding time, i.e. hanging onto what you can of the relationship while you, she, or both of you keep an eye out for what’s next. We’ll cover the perils of biding time in a future post.

While the WR and WW scenarios are sometimes easily identifiable, or manifest quickly, it can also take time for what you thought/hoped was a RR relationship to resolve into either WR or WW. This can take mere weeks…or decades. Basically, those of us looking for Everything may view new relationships through RR-colored lenses–we so very much want to find our Everything!–especially in cases where we haven’t precisely defined the nature of the Everything we seek.

Similarly, RR can also take time to congeal. In cases where RR becomes the outcome, sometimes you may know it in your heart of hearts from early on but that awareness is not as quick in coming for her, vice-versa, or you both arrive at that conclusion, and not always simultaneously, after being together for a while. There’s no preferred path to RR. Here, as in most things, results trump process.

While the “True Love at first sight” version of RR is clearly the most unabashedly romantic and whimsical, RRs arising from that rather rare circumstance are functionally no different than RRs that take a bit more time to manifest.

Since Everything can’t be forced, it’s best not to over-analyze your relationship to the point where you suck all enjoyment out of the present moment, and/or apply undue pressure on your potential soulmate, yourself, and the situation in general. Because by doing so you run the risk of turning a potential RR into a WR. Instead, be true to yourself and follow your heart. If she’s your Everything, and vice-versa, this approach will yield positive results.

image credit: http://www.sharonebardavid.com

Love in the Time of Smartphones

Doesn’t take a genius to to realize that the smartphone and related mobile devices (iPads and such) have facilitated countess aspects of existence, in the process becoming indispensably useful for a whole lotta people. Comparisons to sliced bread may be warranted. In terms of things amorous, from looking for a mate to keeping in touch with the love of your life when you’re apart, smartphones and their extensive ecosystem of apps have had a tremendous and, in my opinion, enormously positive impact.

Dating-related apps, from mobile extensions of web-based platforms like match.com, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish to mobile-only or -centric services like Tinder and Zoosk, make the process of finding a mate convenient, ultra portable, and conceivably “always on.” And once you’ve found that special someone, options for staying connected abound in the mobile universe.

In the early stages of our togetherness, my soulmate, Lien, and I unquestionably leveraged the power, convenience, flexibility, and privacy of our smartphones to accelerate our already quickly deepening relationship.

First and foremost, a general admonishment: don’t use smartphones/apps/etc. as a substitute for more intimate types of communication. Even when–especially when!–what you have to communicate is difficult, emotionally loaded, etc.

Ranking the types of communication, the best is in-person, obviously. Nothing, nothing, nothing can or ever will surpass the connectedness of communicating when you’re physically together. One notch down would be talking on the phone (including video chatting via FaceTime, Skype, etc.), and another step down from phone/video chats would be messaging and other communication-related apps.

Messaging apps, including standard text messaging, are fantastic ways to stay in touch when things like work/etc. keep you apart. Via these handy tools, you can send messages like this to your soulmate:

Hey, Beautiful!  Hope you’re having a great day!  Came across this quote and it made me smile: “Someday, someone might love you in a way you’ve always wanted.  If that someday was yesterday, LEARN; if that someday is tomorrow, HOPE; if that someday is today, CHERISH.”

In fact, I sent the above to Lien. At least I thought I did. Actually, in my first-ever text-messaging misfire, I accidentally sent it to–wait for it–my ex wife! D’oh! I realized my boneheaded mistake the moment I pressed the “send” key in the iPhone’s Messages app. And believe me, for a split second I seriously considered snapping my phone in half to prevent the misfire from landing in my ex’s Messages inbox!

She and I have been divorced for going on twelve years now, and fortunately we have a very amicable relationship that revolves around our wonderful teenage daughter, so I wasn’t deeply concerned that my misfire would have a negative impact on our important post-relationship relationship. But at that point, since it was rather early on in my relationship with Lien, neither my daughter nor my ex were aware I was seriously dating someone.

Fortunately, my ex chose to focus on the humor of the situation. As somewhat of a perfectionist, though, the fact that I’d committed such a blunder didn’t sit well with me. I mean, how fucking hard is it to look to the top of your messaging window to make sure you’re sending your message to the person you want to send it to before you send it? Sheesh.

Yet I’m sure virtually everyone who packs a smartphone has misfired a text message at some point. It’s easy to do. You’re thinking of the person you want to message, open the messaging app, where there’s usually an ongoing thread open already, type out your thought, hit “send,” and–oh, shit!! If you realize your mistake during/immediately after the sending process, that is.  To me, that’s the less, well, bad type of misfire. The other, and in my opinion worse type being when the unintended recipient alerts you to your mistake.

At any rate, I was hellbent on not making that mistake twice, at least not with potentially intensely personal, intimate, sometimes risqué messages. I figured there had to be other messaging apps out there and, after some research and field trials, suggested to Lien that we use only Kik to communicate via IM. I had one contact in Kik, and so did she. The chances of a misfire (assuming, of course, we remembered to open Kik instead of Messages): zero. Nada.

Pretty quickly we realized that the particular app we chose, Kik, (not to sound like an advertorial for Kik) offers some cool features that Apple’s Messages app doesn’t. Like the ability to send finger-drawn sketches, and a vast, searchable database of sendable images and GIFs.

IMG_6486

The visual component offered ways to add humor, tenderness and, occasionally, a perfect non-written way of communicating thoughts and feelings. So what started out as a mechanism to preempt the embarrassment of text-message misfires quickly ended up being an unexpected enhancement to our overall communication, boosting our connectedness when work and our other responsibilities prevented us from being together.

I sent Lien this unabashedly romantic “on bent knee” image a few months into our relationship, and it was received with with the heartlifting reply: I accept! By the way, the willingness to put yourself out there expressively, with something akin to a child’s free spiritedness and unwillingness to see anything other than the desired outcome, is a distinct hallmark of True Love–when that dynamic is happening in both directions, that is.

Lemme tell ya, it’s a pretty freakin’ awesome thing to be in your late 40s and be utterly excited about the process of creating and sending your beloved a heartfelt, finger-drawn sketch professing your genuine feelings. I recommend doing everything you possibly can to be in that position, if you’re not already there.

Needless to say, I did a figurative quintuple backflip when, shortly after I’d sent her the “on bent knee” sketch and she accepted my proffered heart, she sent me this “holding hands” sketch. It resonated for me on many levels, including the detail of the yellow dress, as she was wearing and looked absolutely stellar in a fantastic yellow dress the very first time we saw each other. 

Kik works well for me and Lien, but there are lots of other apps like it out there, including but hardly limited to What’s App, Viber, WeChat, Skype, ooVoo, and MessageMe.

Some of these offer free voice chatting in addition to instant messaging, synchronization with computers, which is a boon for anyone who spends a good chunk of the day on a computer and does better typing on a full-size keyboard than the tiny digital tiles comprising most smartphone keypads these days. Each of these apps has has its own look, feel, and twists on basic functionality.

Beyond the spectrum of apps that are more related to identifying a mate and facilitating your relationship via enhanced ways to communicate directly, there are turn-based asynchronous games like Words With Friends, Draw Something, Letterpress, SongPop, and more that provide fun and competition-oriented ways to stay connected.

I feel this post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention what some might consider the negative side of the enhanced connectedness afforded by smartphones, namely the facilitation of what I’ll call extra-relationship romantic/sexual activities. While there’s no doubt that folks can and do use smartphones and other mobile devices in ways that cause distress for their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc., my feeling is that it’s wrongheaded to label these activities inherently “bad.” After all, it’s not the smartphone that caused whatever problems a given person has in their relationship that makes them look outside of it for…whatever it is they’re not getting from said relationship, is it?

And, ultimately, since the potential for a relationship characterized by infidelity to represent Everything to both parties is slight, in one sense technology that could expedite the end of a non-Everything relationship and afford both parties another shot at finding their respective Everythings with other people ultimately can only be considered beneficial.

Bottom line: smartphones and a profusion of apps, many if not most available for free, are kick-ass tools to help you connect with that special someone and enhance your togetherness as your relationship develops and flourishes. If you’re dating with an eye toward finding your relationship Everything–or if you’re fortunate enough to be enjoying your Everything–and don’t yet have a smartphone, definitely consider getting one.  If you’ve got one already, I wholeheartedly encourage you to look into apps that could empower you in your quest and enrich your connectedness.

Hard to see how you and your future (our current) beloved wouldn’t benefit.

 

Do Something About It

A while ago I came across an image online somewhere, possibly in my Facebook News Feed–a flowchart that really captured my fancy. A simple prescription for how to live your life. There are, of course, myriad ways to do that, but for the most part they’re all gradations of two fundamental alternatives: positive or negative. Ergo Abundance or Scarcity. Ergo Hope/Love or Fear.

There are many versions of this flowchart online–so many it’s virtually impossible to assign credit properly.

Original_Don't_Worry

The idea behind the flowchart is appealingly, elegantly simple: influence and affect the things you can and don’t sweat the rest. This resonated with me, so I printed out a couple of copies, putting one on my fridge, another on the wall behind my desk.

Over my adult life I’ve had the sense that we as individuals have much more control over the way our lives unfold than we think. That we’re not all on preordained tracks, playing out Destiny, Fate, or the like. We’re not passive characters in a play of someone or something else’s creation.

Without a doubt the biggest validation of this notion I’ve ever experienced is my relationship with my soulmate, Lien. It took me until my mid 40s, after a long marriage, newfound singledom, an almost-second marriage, and years of sporadic dating to define who and what I wanted in a woman. When I’d (finally!) done that, I believed with all my heart and every fiber of my being that she and I would meet and fall head over heels in love. Less than a year later that’s exactly what happened.

As a lifelong rational thinker, a subscriber to mainstream scientific consensus enamored by the irrefutability of logic, for the bulk of my life I didn’t have much use for mysticism and woo woo stuff. Although I didn’t have anything against it or against those who chose to believe in things I felt to be far fetched. To each their own. Live and let live, yo.

But then I met and fell utterly, completely in love with the woman I envisioned having in my life, and vice versa. That experience, so profound, cracked my mind wide open to thinking I’d honestly been indifferent to prior. There’s an old adage to the effect of “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” My experience had made me ready, and led me, if not so much to a specific teacher, to an overall school of thought.

Meeting with a friend and one-time professional colleague, who recently published a well-received Young Adult novel, I described for him the sensibility I was looking to realize with a book project of my own, a creative nonfiction work about relationships and love. (to be published next year) He suggested I check out a particular book he’d read, in which he felt that the author did a solid job approaching somewhat weighty/heady material in an engaging, generally breezy, witty, humorous way.

So I picked up a digital copy of the book and dove in. While I felt his assessment to be spot-on, I quickly found myself not so much analyzing the composition of the book but becoming increasingly enthralled by its subject matter. The book is by Pam Grout. The basic premise: we all have the power to actualize what it is we want in and for our lives. referenced another work on the subject, The Field by Lynn McTaggart, a somewhat more cut-and-dry, analytical yet wholly compelling exploration of the science behind the power of Intention. I devoured it, ravenously.

Both of these works validated and codified a sense I’d long considered but hadn’t fully owned. Up until the point when I’d read the books, I concurred that the flowchart above had it exactly right. These impactful books, however, made me look at the flowchart’s implied life philosophy through a different lens–the result being that it no longer felt like an axiomatic truism. Rather, something only half right.

Here’s my modification:

In my case it was romance that initially prompted me to espouse this disposition, to make it my modus operandi. I knew what and who I wanted in my life, and decided I wouldn’t compromise on that. I’d either have Everything…or I’d have nothing. I can’t convey strongly enough how important it is to inhabit, to own, to occupy the life philosophy implied by the above. Not only when it comes to romance and matters of the heart, but to life in general.

It was my complete belief that I’d be fortunate enough to experience and enjoy my Everything (and as a major component of that give her Everything, too) that led me to that very destination. My gut, or perhaps more accurately my heart, guided me. At the time I didn’t fully understand the intellectual underpinnings of what I was doing, but that didn’t matter: somehow I just knew I had to do it.

And the heartlifting, energizing, permasmile-inducing result of that determination is what retroactively engendered understanding of the process, as well as the awareness of and unwavering belief that you can always do something about it. That positive proactivity will shape your reality.

Probably close to ten years ago, my dear friend Robert Morgan Fisher, an immensely talented Narrative Engineer whose wheelhouse includes fiction and non-fiction, songwriting (and performing), and screenwriting, gave me this page from a New Yorker desktop calendar. It’s occupied front-and-center real estate on my fridge since the day he gave it to me.

All Good!

When you fully own the conviction that you can always proactively do something about “it,” whatever “it” happens to be, the idea expressed in this simple, uplifting image resonates even more deeply.

Your turn…

 

Everything or Nothing

Romantic relationships come in infinite forms, comprised of a multiplicity of attributes, including but hardly limited to degrees of emotional intimacy, love, friendship, trust, physical intimacy, loyalty, sexual attraction, respect, shared interests, common goals, honesty, fun, and many more.

Regardless of the specific ingredients, the overall spectrum of the quality of relationships, from bad to good, goes from unhealthy/dysfunctional–of which there are also myriad varieties–to True Love, that most rarified, desired, vaunted form of romantic connectedness that joins two people in a way that simultaneously blurs the line between them yet bolsters them individually, that only gets more exciting, deeper, and more heartlifting, more amazing over time. And while there are varying degrees of being in a romantic relationship there are really only two possible statuses: in one or not in one.

Toothbrushes

If you believe that True Love is not only possible, but possible for you–if it’s something you want insist on having in your life, then there’s only one route to take: Everything or Nothing. Defining what and who you want as your ideal romantic partner and refusing to compromise is the only way to get to Everything. Concepts like “enough” or “good enough” need not apply, as they won’t get you there. Equally important: knowing who you are and being willing to offer Everything fearlessly and authentically.

There’s long been a movement out there in the Self-Actualization universe revolving around the concept of learning to want what you have. Outside of the one relationship scenario where this strategy makes sense, namely the case of not having previously grasped that what/who you have actually does represent your Everything, so you come to the realization that you actually already do have exactly what you want, actively accepting less is a surefire pathway to disappointment. Granted, it may take years, even decades, for the realization that your relationship isn’t an Everything relationship to set in, but given how brief our time is, is spending any more of it than necessary in a relationship that you know is somehow lacking really the best approach? (this topic will be further explored in an upcoming post)  I suppose that depends on your priorities and your sense of what you deserve.

My pathway to my relationship Everything is an interesting and circuitous one. It involved a late start with respect to sex (virginity lost junior year of college), a first love that led to marriage, then parenthood quickly followed by divorce. Then a near-miss with marriage to the wrong woman. Followed by a more-than-five-year period of dating and not dating, that chunk of time most notable for my having only at the very end of it defined who it is that I want as a romantic partner. Sometimes I look back in amazement that I dated sporadically for over five years without having defined who and what I wanted in terms of a woman and a relationship!

In retrospect it’s absolutely no surprise to me that I didn’t find my relationship Everything until after I–duh!–defined it. Then, probably about six months later, a woman walked into my life who embodied it to a tee. She and I now reflect on the two chance encounters that set in motion our eventual togetherness, how strong and heartlifting our connection was from the very beginning. Strong enough to power us through complicated and at times trying circumstances. As I write this post we’ve been together for eighteen months, and our connection continues to grow and deepen, our excitement about being with each other, our wonder, sense of awe, and gratitude about having found each other, continues to go only one way: up. And that’s the only way it will go, forever. About that neither of us have any doubt.

The Love of My Life, Lien, and I are living proof that it’s possible to have your relationship Everything. If you’re not in a relationship and feel the beck and call of True Love, sensing in your heart that it’s out there for you, the first step is to define who you are, and the next is to define who and what you want, what you deserve, romantically speaking. Then think about the latter (who/what) nonstop. Visualize it, dream it, manifest it. And trust that it will happen. Your unwavering conviction and certainty will ensure that it does. Then be willing to give Everything, knowing that it’s the contentedness and bliss associated with that–the giving–that will create the environment for your partner to do the same, each of you offering your unique gifts in a selfless, fearless way, without expectation of any return or reciprocation. It’s this that nourishes True Love, that allows it to be ever expanding, ever deepening,

If you’re in a relationship and have come to the realization that your partner and the situation do not represent an Everything dynamic, and never will, you have to decide whether or not following your heart, pursuing and realizing Everything, will ultimately be the rising tide that lifts all proverbial boats (like your responsibility to your kid/s, for example).

Basically, reduced to its essence, it becomes a choice between hope and fear. How do you want to live your life? You can fear that your decisions will have negative ramifications for you and those you love, or fully believe, to the deepest part of your core, that hope, specifically the hope for penultimate Love, will lead you to exactly that, and touch every part of your life in amazing ways.

To me, it’s a no brainer. And it’s that positivity, that unwavering certainty that Everything is possible, that compels me to write about what I’ve been lucky enough to experience, hoping that doing so might in some way help others realize their Everything.

image source:  debretts.com