I am not fond of clutter.
One of my favorite things to do (I’m really not kidding about this) is to go through all my stuff – books, magazines, CDs, clothing, shoes – and select items to donate. Reason being: I aspire to “travel light” – even when I’m not going anywhere.
Yet for some reason a particular issues of Spirituality & Health magazine has been in my magazine basket for years – 13 years, precisely. The title of the issue is: “What is This Thing Called Love?” I have read the whole edition several times and I’m still not sure I know what love is (although I am quite clear that I still have a ways to go to master it myself). So, in lieu of (and in hopes of) eventual mastery, I hang on to the magazine, year after year.
This morning I opened the issue up to an article called “Each Other’s Stuff” by Alison Rose Levy. The article is so old I couldn’t even find the e-version of it online! (wow.)
A particular line caught my eye: “There’s no reason in the world we should know how to have a conscious relationship with another person, because it’s never been done before” (quote by John Welwood, “Toward a Psychology of Awakening”.)
The article opens by describing a scene out of a play I’ve never heard of called “The Bald Soprano.” In the scene, two people sit next to one another at a dinner party. As their conversation progresses, the assumption that they are two strangers just getting to know each other leads to a level of intimate sharing which ultimately reveals they are already married.
The point, of course, is that many, many so-called “intimate relationships” are far from intimate, to the point where we can feel all alone even when surrounded by family, friends, and significant others.
Interestingly, the article’s author, Levy, points out that “marrying for love” is a relatively recent invention – so much so that our expectations for what a love partnership can and should offer at times tend to vary significantly from the reality of what we can ever expect to receive from another human being.