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March 3, 2017

What a New Car & a Wheelchair-bound Man at yoga class Taught Me about Finding Love.

A post shared by Gypsie Raleigh (@gypsieraleigh) on

Many singles, like me, have been breathing a sigh of relief over the past few weeks.

We’ve survived Valentine’s Day, the sales-pitch holiday that drives home the idea that being with someone special would make life more meaningful. Now, as we creep into March, we can forget about all of that.

We can officially switch our anthem from Gloria Gainer’s, “I Will Survive” to Haddaway’s “What is Love?” until next year—if we are still unwillingly single.

As usual, the grand finale of my I hope I’m not alone for the holidays theme, which started back in December, was Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. I love love. I love celebrating it, having it, feeling it, being in it, making it, searching for it, sharing it and learning to become it. (The only part of love I don’t like is suffering in it.)

This year, I decided to purchase my Valentine’s Day romance: in the form of a three-year love affair with my first fancy car and a warranty if anything goes wrong—which was a better deal than most of my long-term monogamous relationships.

I spent most of the day at a car dealership with an ornery, yet cute, fellow New Yorker who just happened to be my sales agent. The ongoing flirtation I had with him also satiated my immediate Valentine’s need to feel attractive and wanted—until he asked me why I wasn’t married.

I know this was his way of finding out just how single I was, but it hit a sore spot for me. I began my descent toward the wounded road most-traveled as my low self-esteem heard him say, “What’s wrong with you?” I gently hit the brakes on my flirtation (both the brakes on my new car and my heart are not covered by a protective warranty, so I knew this was a wise choice). The moment of my buying love in the form of a car came to a screeching halt.

My brain went from super excited at finally having the car of my dreams to realizing I was single again—on Valentine’s day, at a car dealership, at night, with a bunch of other single dudes who couldn’t care less. But I did. I cared a lot.

Thanks to my prying (and otherwise adorably cute) sales agent, I was reminded that I was still unmarried, despite my best efforts (mixed with poor choices) in relationships for over a decade. There I was on February 14, 2017 as if it were any other day, but for a holiday celebrator like me, it wasn’t. While the rest of my secular world was either getting it on, drinking great wine or snuggled up with their loved one, I was forging a new relationship with a…car.

I immediately started to have a pity party for one. It sounded like this in my head:

I loved my new car, but it would have been even better if I was driving it with someone I loved, someone to share my excitement with.

Was I really buying the holidays sales pitch that doing things with someone you loved made it that much better and more meaningful? I caught myself in the throes of single-handedly ruining my excitement—thought by thought, word by word. The meditator and self-reflecting “expert” in me knew this was a dangerous road to travel. So, I quickly got my head out of my “buts,” or rather, butt, and remind myself of what love was.

It came to me in the form of an experience I had had earlier that day when a wheelchair-bound man (who was probably the least “handicapped” student in the room, myself included) came to join my restorative meditation and yoga class. He was in bed for 13 years after partially severing his cervical spine while body-surfing. He was told he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

When I asked him what his goals were now that he had defied expectation and diagnosis and could move all his limbs, he replied, “I hope I can take my wife out to dinner. I hope to open the door for her, walk her into the restaurant and have a great meal with her. After my accident she had to become the bread-winner, took care of me and our children. I want to make her feel special because I am so grateful for her love.”

Okay, so perhaps sharing our life with someone is more meaningful. Or maybe kindness is the key to love no matter what form it takes, or who is giving it to us.

Being single and being in a relationship both have their challenges, and both give us the opportunity to experience, express and learn about love. When it comes to celebrating love, sometimes it takes a little, or even a lot, of suffering and sacrifice to remind us just how great it is.

Love as a word is filled with so much meaning and interpretation that it can’t be boxed in. Instead, it can be expressed in a myriad ways, with or without a significant other. After all, who’s to say what makes loving one way or another better or worse…the love police?

Whether it’s a special holiday, a gift wrapped in a box, expressed in love notes, the smell of a loved one, the hope of a better future, a photograph, the kindness of a stranger, a meditation, the support of a friend or family member, forgiveness or caring for another, love is always worth celebrating in any way we can.

This is why, no matter how challenging it is to be alone sometimes, there is always love to be found.

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Author: Heather Dawn

Image: With kind permission, Gypsie Raleigh

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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