I woke up hot and testy this morning, eager to pick a fight with my Higher Power.
Leading my list of complaints was the following:
“Hey God, tell me this: Why do you give us Youth and Beauty first and Wisdom second?”
“Could we tweak that just a little bit?”
This cosmic quandary crossed my mind as I lay in bed brooding about the subject nearest to my heart which is, as you probably already know,the sweet torture known as Love.
Here’s what was bugging me about God’s Gifts as I stomped around my sticky bedroom looking for my oven-friendly wardrobe:
It is a no-brainer that we tend to attract the most promising mates when we are young and beautiful. The problem is that when we find our God or Goddess we’re usually clueless about what to do with him or her. We are Green and Golden but not yet Wise.
Wouldn’t it be loverly if Youth and Beauty were rewards for years of wise living instead of commodities squandered on those who value them least?
I’m convinced that one of the reasons people break up only to regret it later is because they don’t know how to appreciate what they have when they have it. We can’t see how rare and precious a decent life partner is–and how impossible to replace–until the person and the relationship are irretrievable.
I know several women–myself included–who got divorced and immediately began looking for new husbands. Replacing them, or even trading up, was easy, we thought.
How ridiculous we were, how slow to realize our folly. How rich and tragic was the wisdom we received when countless dates and might-have-been mates dead ended.
By the time I got around to crooning rueful renditions of “I Threw It All Away” and “You Don’t Miss Your Water Till Your Well Runs Dry” there was no one, least of all a beloved ex, within earshot.
If only I had been wise enough to hang on until I got wiser. I regret it to this day, and every once in awhile I want to shake my fist at the heavens about the (Not So) Grand Scheme of Things.
I was reminded of these troubling matters recently when I met a stressed out young couple in the neighborhood.
They were a lovely pair standing outside a beautiful Victorian house. The husband was holding their smiling Buddha Child aloft, while the wife set up a stroller.
The man greeted me amiably and made introductions. His wife smiled faintly and said nothing. The husband continued to chat with me while the woman kept her distance and appeared increasingly distressed. Finally, she walked over, snatched the baby from his arms, strapped it into the stroller and began to push the conveyance up the street. I excused myself.
As I retreated from the scene, my heart went out to the young woman. She brought to mind my own struggle to maintain a dependable union in a distracting world.
How well I remember my fruitless frustrating attempts to defend my sweet loving marriage from intrusion. We’d be bringing our sleeping baby into the house, packing the car for a road trip, or turning out the bedroom lights–and an acquaintance would telephone, a neighbor would stop by to borrow a ladder or a fax would arrive requiring immediate attention. Alas, it was hard for me to hold onto affection and trust as waves of new experiences and new people carried us in and out of intimacy.
I’m pretty sure that it was my struggle to balance monogamy with community that drove a wedge between me and the men who mattered most in my life, including my husband. Jealousy and possessiveness, the need to control, fear of abandonment, the need to grasp and cling destroyed my love.
It seems I could not calm my neurotic behavior long enough to realize that these brief and generally harmless encounters with the outside world were actually a tiny part of life. If only I had been able to loosen my grip and flow with life’s little disturbances, I might still be enjoying the blessed company of a partner.
If only I KNEW what I KNOW.
Walking back to my house, I was overcome by an inappropriate but heartfelt desire to share my belated epiphanies with the young couple.
I wanted to tell them: “Wait for the wisdom you need to love each other. It’s coming. It’s worth it. I know it.”
Alas, I really do.