Monday, January 13, 2014
Many men and women spend their lives looking for that special life partner, that kindred spirit, that soul mate with whom they can share life and love. Even South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, in his press conference after his own indiscretion, claimed to have found his soul mate in his Argentine paramour. Do we all have a soul mate? How will we recognize our soul mate when and if we encounter him or her?
It would be difficult indeed to find a soul mate if you were to accept the theory of soul mates presented by Aristophanes. In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes asserted that human beings originally consisted of four arms, four legs, and one head made up of two faces. According to his theory, Zeus, fearing their power, split them all in half and condemned them to live their lives searching for the other half to complete them.
In reality, a soul mate is generally considered to be someone with whom you share abiding love, affinity and intimacy. Your soul mate would be a kindred spirit. It would be impossible to recognize your soul mate, even if he or she were standing right in front of you, if you did not first know yourself. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” To find your soul mate, you must first examine your own life. You must know what you want out of life, what type of a person with whom you want to share your life, and, above all, you must know what makes you happy.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It’s sad, but true, that making up your mind to be happy may very well involve altering your expectations. If you expect less, you are more apt to be happy with what you have. In finding a soul mate, you must have realistic expectations as to a suitable person to fill that bill, as none of us are perfect. A good starting point for finding a soul mate is to foster lasting friendships first.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Henry David Thoreau’s immortal words have no gender. Desperate women and men! Biological clock ticking! Have to find love! What most women and men don’t realize is that when they get into this sort of frantic race with life, the desperation consumes them. The serendipitous nature of their lives becomes the first casualty of a frenzied need to make love happen. The second casualty is their approachability by any dating prospect. I believe that women and men sense desperation in one another, and such desperation is detrimental to the search for love. I will always remember the words of a gentleman in a night club who chose to approach me, in particular, when I was surrounded by scores of lovely ladies that night. He later confessed that he was drawn to me because I didn’t seem to be “looking”. He said that my demeanor suggested that I might already be taken even though there was no bodily evidence there to support such a claim. Men, competitive creatures that they are, love a challenge. If a man senses that a woman has another man waiting in the wings (whether she really does or not), it makes the prize seem all the more precious. I have a history of five engagements, four of which ended in marriages, to back my contention.
As a college student, I was three months into an engagement to marry a very serious-minded fellow when I met the young men who lived in the apartment above my roommates and me. One I found particularly interesting. He was charmingly humorous and a stark contrast to my fiancé.
One day, he had come downstairs to my apartment under the premise of borrowing something when I heard my fiancé drive up. It wouldn’t have been necessary to resort to such drastic measures, but I chose to ask my new acquaintance to hide under the bed when my fiancé came to the door to pick me up. I think that my new friend found this Vaudevillian maneuver in the face of competition captivating and challenging. He decided to pursue a relationship with me.
To the victors go the spoils, as they say. I eventually broke my engagement and later married the man I had stashed beneath the bed. However, probably due to youth and haste in judgment, the marriage ended in divorce, as did two more successive marriages. The one common thread, however, that I believe made it possible for me to be on the receiving end of five marriage proposals in the first place was that I never wore the badge of desperation - that my life would be incomplete without a man. In retrospect, I think that I always gave potential suitors the impression, whether it was true or not, that there was always somebody else waiting in the wings – or under the bed.
Yes, I think everyone has a soul mate somewhere. But don’t be consumed with the search. Just live and enjoy your life and keep yourself open to friendships and receptive to all possibilities. I’m currently enjoying my fourth and final marriage. I found my soul mate in a lifelong friend. This marriage will last because it was born, not of youthful impulse from an unexamined life, but of the wisdom gained from experiencing life’s roller coaster ride with a kindred spirit of many years.
Picture credit: Gabriella Fabbri