“Love is space and time measured by the heart.” ~ Marcel Proust
He said he never does anything “big” for his birthday, this boyfriend of mine.
But, to me, the mere event of his birth is bigger than big. Even bigger was the fact that our collective century of life was lived without comprehension of the others’ existence.
All those years, breathing the same air, dreaming under separate rooftops beneath the same vastness of sky, living separate lives, raising kids with significant others who would teach us vital lessons about relationship and loving that we needed to grasp in order to love better.
Lessons that needed to course through our veins before the moons would align and a dating app that we had both all but given up on would finally bring us together; before we could fall in love and know how to truly and fully love and savor each other.
To become us.
What is big is that we lived these separate lives, ignorant to the fact that our marriages would collapse under different circumstances (my marriage lasted 23 years, his 18)—oblivious to the fact that our futures would be so divergent from our dreams of intact families, growing old with what was supposed to be a lifelong significant other.
And that the pain that darkened our souls when the curtain came down on those idyllic dreams (fantasies?) would also come to an end. The fact that what seemed like separate life journeys would collide as if we were always meant to fall in love—and truly love—ready to construct us with the tools we gathered along the way.
And the awe that came with realizing our paths had likely crossed during those 20-plus years we lived only moments away from each other, shopping at the same stores, being equally passionate about health-nutism, kindness, and making the world a better place.
My boyfriend’s birthday prompted me to contemplate what relationship—being in love and committed to another human being—meant.
In a mindful way, not a “cool, I have someone I can hang with and have sex with and ease my loneliness” kinda way. To be mindful in a way I had never been.
I intended to write a birthday letter of gratitude. It morphed into what you will read below—a culmination of relationship reflections, if you will. Pieces of what relationship provides. The “ideals” that create the environment where love has a better chance of thriving and souls are inspired to sing in harmony.
1. The spark that ignites our personal development and positive growth.
2. A safe zone where vulnerability and heart-opening can occur at their own pace, without pressure.
3. A union of “baggage” that we help each other heave from our one another’s backs and unpack mindfully, with compassion for the messes that tumble out. With intention, we sort through it and eventually (ideally) let it go so that it no longer weighs us down or creates unnecessary obstacles for our love’s true potential.
4. A generator of memories, whether tender, adventurous, funny, and/or playful, that can carry us through the inevitable, unexpected hardships.
5. The foundation for the awareness, understanding, and support of each other’s needs, desires, and dreams.
6. The experience of sharing the joys of giving and receiving love out of love, not guilt or keeping score.
7. The body parts and soulfulness to hold each other tight in times of difficulty; to be present and listen, truly see and hear the other person. To look deep into each other’s eyes and find ways to touch each other’s souls more deeply. To smooth out each other’s edges and bring light to each other’s days, whether together or apart.
I am not, of course, the first person to write about love or relationship. Nor will I be the last. But I wanted to share my thoughts on what relationship and love mean to me in hopes others, whether newly in love or dusting off or attempting to revive an existing relationship will be inspired to take a deeper look at what “it” is all about and love more deeply and mindfully.
If we can all be more mindful in love (romantically or otherwise), the world will be a better place.