Three years ago, after divorce, I started dating for the first time in 25 years. Two years ago after an intense personal learning period brought on by the dating, I thought I had this meet-the-love-of-my-life thing worked out. I’d done my work, I thought. I’d released the trials and tribulations of past pain and hurt. I’d ranted and let go of anger and angry words. I’d burned my disappointment on little pieces of paper in a grown-up ritual of release and forgiveness. I’d learned to punch the heck out of a heavy bag at the gym. I’d asked my body to reform so that my spirit felt free and able to be a new me. I’d focused intent on what I wanted in a man in my life. I’d even wrote it all down in a book. How much more ready could I be? What was left undone? Unattended to? Ignored? I felt like I’d opened my heart to new possibility. To a new me, newly freed, ready, willing. I got this!
Then I met Him. And nothing seemed certain or sure. Like the bottom fell out of my life. All those checklists of desirable traits? Check, check, check. All matched, but so much more that I had never considered, nor expected, yet — hell, yes! — I did desire! Every conversation was a land mine and a joy. Every moment, exciting and baffling. And I realized that all that learning with those other guys was preparation and distraction. Now the real learning began. No guarantees. No easy answers. No quick anything. Everything about me was called into question not for judgment or criticism but for cleaning and polishing. Lots of tears and questioning and anxious moments as I listened to myself process all the growth and shift each moment with him raised in me. And I watched him do the same as each moment with me raised him into his own learning. A process of finding balance within and between.
I seemed to represent to him an aspect of relationship he didn’t know possible and he did the same for me. A comfort level I had never imagined. A level of trust I had only dreamed of. An ability to share at such deep levels I marveled, I worried, I struggled to stay present. This was not going to be a series of easy decisions. The depth of serious consideration eliminated quick and easy. And the fear of getting what I asked for reared its vicious head.
And all I could do was caution myself: Be here, now in this moment. That’s all there truly is: Now. Not next week, not next month, not the rest of my life. Now — that’s it.
I look back over the last six months and see all that I didn’t know then about myself and I am amazed, grateful, excited, scared, happy and willing to try another minute, another moment to see him see me, see him. A dance where we don’t know, can’t know the outcome. Just whatever is for us now in this moment, alive and open and willing to continue our dance, our journey wherever the road may take us.
I don’t know where the road will lead us. I can’t know. He can’t know. All I know is in this moment, I am all in and I want him to be in with me. No promises. No guarantees. All in, here, now.
Yes, I thought I was prepared. And I think so did he. And it’s not that we weren’t, but that the unexpected happened simply because of what we have the potential to be for each other. And part of the potential was activator — meaning we ignited in each other depth and infinite possibility. And when the individual stands at the nexus of this type of activation, what no longer serves is released and it can hurt and be confusing and disturbing and feel like the greatest elation. Balance is getting pushed at the deepest levels and most will flee in the face of this challenge, not able to wobble in the moment. Much easier to turn to the stability of yesterday.
He makes me see how I can be a better person. He quietly observes the very depths of me which most can’t fathom. He pushes at all of those little bits of me which are ready to go, freeing me for new vision and understanding. And I believe I do the same for him.
It is a firing in the kiln of life, lovingly witnessed, faithfully attended, though the way is tough because at the same time all I feel I want is a hug, someone to hold my hand, and remind me I’m not alone.
It matters not exactly where the road will lead. This is the lesson of the unexpected: you can’t always know and why should you be focused on tomorrow because it is today which matters. It is today which holds our hearts and offers the support needed to sustain body, mind, heart and soul. It’s not where are you going? No, instead it is simply we are going wherever the road may lead because that is what is truthful and right. The journey is never the destination. The journey is this moment now where we journey.
It’s not that what I learned or decided I wanted from the process of dating was wrong. It’s that in the face of the unexpected of Him, I realized that all of those declarations of desired partner traits of mine were destinations — descriptions of where my life’s journey may conclude.
He shows me that in this moment my focus is on the experience, the feeling, the exchange of he and I together. In the face of learning from the unexpected I can’t, nor can he, predict exactly where this journey may lead. There is nothing to pre-plan or predict. The unexpected will deliver in this moment what we call forward not because we know, but because in this moment we are ready to explore and learn together, willing to support the activation when it occurs.
Only in looking back do we have 20/20 vision about destination. In the moment is the experience and a choice. Take the next step together? Or step apart? All my learning and writing and living has brought me here to this point where he also stands. Each with choice about his or her next step. Love comes not in the certainty of destination but in the vulnerability of uncertainty in this moment. Holy be. Holy we. Amen.
Read the last part here: This Love Thing: A Conclusion