I have been divorced twice and in love more times than I dare to admit. My mother has been married to the same man for over 60 years.
I grow older and the road narrows. I have fewer choices now than I once did and some possibilities will never be open to me. When I was young, I couldn’t imagine staying with the same person for my entire life. At the other end of experience, I now wish I knew what it was like to love and be loved for a lifetime.
A dear friend told me recently that she thinks we must always give up a part of ourselves to be with another. I agree and yet, how do you know when you’ve crossed the line and given up too much?
There are clues, though it seems many of us are very good at ignoring them. Last night I told my two adolescent girls about the caged canaries that workers would carry with them into the coal mines. If lethal gases were present the canary would die before the gases killed the miners. My canary is creativity. When I feel no urge to create, when the images and the words and the ideas no longer fill me up and flow out with joy, I know I have entered dangerous territory. One’s body and soul needs to be fed to create.
Falling in love feeds the soul, but new love– that wild romantic erotic love– never lives forever. It survives best on mystery and secrets, projection and illusion. It is Neptunian and lovely and, often, quite deceptive. So what do old lovers know that I don’t? How did they manage to traverse that heady early terrain to reach the solid ground they stand on? Surely they must also encounter weeks or months or years when they feel they have given up too much. How do they recapture the parts of themselves that they have lost without also sacrificing their love?
I am listening to my creativity. It has been breathless for too long. It’s time to nurture it back to full voice, to full song.