For someone currently learning how to navigate through the harrowing halls of a relationship and the heartbreak, I am amazed at the skill of which this secret world has been kept hidden from me.
Like Santa Claus.
Or the effects of smoking in the age of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
I can imagine that when children learn the truth about the big man in the chimney, some of them must think, ‘Nicely played. I would have never guessed.’ While others might smugly retort, ‘I knew all along. A fat guy coming down a chimney… Riiiight.’
It’s true that children are becoming increasingly too smart for their own good. To the point of annoying. It’s only a matter of time until a car cuts me off on the road and, as I turn to gaze at the wrongdoer, there will sit a nine year old with a box of chocolate milk, arguing about the political ills of Washington.
There’s plenty of other worldly goings-on that are veiled today. Many youngsters grow up oblivious to the struggles that life will soon bring them: The anxiety of supporting themselves. The stresses of marriage. The turbulances of child rearing. The agony of burying a parent.
And though life can be so utterly disappointing at times most humans insist on pushing forward. Those are the people to watch. The ones who accept their childhoods, their heritage, their mistakes, and events that are just simply out of their control.
But love–that is something that is, for a fact, in our control. People say we can’t decide who we fall in love with. But I disagree.
It’s true, we may feel a draw to the guy at work who shares our interests and has a good sense of humor. But add to those qualities the fact that he is married with a kid on the way and any feelings of love (hopefully) drift away into impossibility.
As free moral agents, we are able to act on our feelings or push them away if they are unreasonable or unrealistic.
Or perhaps circumstances cause feelings to arise.
We have all heard the stories of arranged marriages where the couple grew to love one another. They saw each others’ good qualities and, add to that the closeness of everyday life, in time, they came to love one another.
Still others allow themselves to fall in love within reason, keeping their heads intact to recognize inevitable pitfalls of the relationship.
And some fall in too deep too quickly to recognize their error or to anticipate the future path of the relationship.
But whether the relationship crumbles after five years, five weeks or five days, or lives on until death, the heart isn’t quick to let go.
And this is the light I have finally seen.
I now understand the endless songs about lost loves and heart-wrenching anguish over untold feelings. And that more people deal with these problems than I realize.
I have spent more days in this past month walking around in an ambivalent, teary-eyed haze due to an ended relationship than I have in the past year.
Break ups may not get any easier each time but the experience of getting through each one adds a lifetime of wisdom.
Or so they say.


paws of devotion

November 26, 2010

We humans think we are pretty smart. We create new technology; minimize our impact on our planet; buy local; feed the hungry; give money to a stranger; make safer vehicles.

But we don’t know it all, yet.

Everything around us can teach us something, if we let it. Including animals.

Any pet owner will attest to his/her pet’s undying loyalty.

My 11-year-old Schnauzer would take a bullet for me and my family, I’m sure of it.

But it’s not just loyalty to their human owners that makes them so worthy of praise but also their loyalty to each other. Even those outside of their kind.

I witnessed this intense connection once, between a Doberman and a tabby cat.

Simon the cat was displaying signs of increasing illness over the course of a few days. I could hear his meows of discomfort before I even entered his home for my daily pet-care visits.

Doby, the intimidating yet lovable Doberman, always met me at the door, thrilled to see a human face and even more ecstatic when we hit the pavement for a brisk walk.

As Simon’s pain continued, we decided to visit the vet.

Doby watched us go out the front door, Simon curled in my arms.

I can only imagine his mind confusedly wondering where his pal was headed. As I returned to the house, visit after visit, each time without Simon, Doby became increasingly agitated. And with me being the last one he saw with his missing buddy, he began to view me as less of a friend and more of a traitor.

Doby made his distaste clear by regularly tackling me during my visits. His agile body and powerful paws landing on my back–and sometimes my front–though with no intention of hurting me, I know. If he wanted to harm me, I had determined, there wasn’t much standing in his way. No, he was simply protesting his feelings in the only way he knew how.

I couldn’t tell him that Simon was not coming home, nor did I want to. This was something he would have to realize on his own. And if it meant I had to endure a few powerful pounces from a heavy-hearted, 80-pound wrestler, I was resolved to take it.

Doby’s affection for and loyalty to Simon ran deep and was not quickly tossed aside.

I can only hope that my bonds of friendship and family hold so tightly. How much happier the world would be if we all lived like Doby.