– Contributed by Wee C
The philosopher has come out in me lately. More Dr. Phil than Plato and his shadows on the cave wall, but I’m a philosopher queen nonetheless. Shockingly, I’ve been thinking about love, loss and the stuff that happens in between. You know, like life. I’ve been thinking about how so many of us progress from lust to love, love to life, and somehow, life to loss. I’ve been thinking about how we keep the lust as part of the love and how we prevent life from suffocating all of it. Ah, yes, Socrates would be proud. What’s that wisdom he used to pass along…know thyself?
When I look back on my 11 year relationship (and, yes, I arrogantly believe this makes me a enough of an authority on love to write about it), there are plenty of things that worked and didn’t work. That’s reasonably inconsequential at this point. What I have realized, though, is that most couples spend way too much time
arguing talking about the kind of toilet paper to buy, who spends more time working than the other, how the other never buys them flowers any more, and not nearly enough supporting one another in their individual journeys. And if Maslow is right, and self-actualization is the ultimate destination, a relationship with someone else has to be about supporting them on their path; not cluttering it, not obstructing it, not hijacking it. And certainly, it can’t only be about the colour of the drapes.
What I’ve come to realize in the past couple of weeks is that building a life with another human being is a privilege. During that process, you learn, you teach, you share, and most importantly, you grow as an individual. Building, however, insinuates support, collaboration, progression. Building is what helps us get to self-actualization. It’s sustaining a life that’s problematic. Sustaining is stagnant, it’s suffocating and it’s emotionally suicidal.
Do I think that we all need to sit around and discuss the meaning of life all the time? Absolutely not. Do I think that we need to feverishly run down the path of life in a relentless pursuit of higher mindedness? Not a chance. But have I come to believe that reducing life to nothing but mortgages, babies, RRSPs, and “where the hell is my ring” will kill even the best relationships and suffocate even the most inspired of individuals. Yes, I most certainly have.
Through all of this, the most important realization I’ve had is that life really is a journey of finding meaning. Individual and collective meaning. We need to honour that by supporting the one we’re with and allowing them to find their own meaning in their own ways, even if those ways look different than our own. We need to honour that by protecting our own journey and not allowing someone else to stifle it, even if that means walking away from them. And we need to honour that by not allowing the dirty diapers, the errands that need to be run and the crappy way they fold the laundry to overtake our relationships. Because, really, there’s no lust, love or life in any of that.